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Microbiome-based precision medicine in inflammatory bowel disease


Generating solutions




2017 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition: Genomics and Precision Health

Genome Centre(s)



Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched


Project Description

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) results from gut inflammation and leaves sufferers with serious health issues due to this chronic inflammation. Canada has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world, with more than 10,200 new cases each year, for an estimated total of 233,000 patients (including 5,900 children) and a cost to the Canadian economy of $2.8 billion/year. There is no cure for this lifelong condition and its cause remains unknown, although it seems to be tied to an imbalance of key beneficial and deleterious intestinal microbes.

Treating IBD can be unpredictable raising concerns of using too-aggressive treatments for some patients and risking doing more harm than good while using insufficiently aggressive treatments might not help. Drs. Alain Stintzi and David Mack will use genomics to characterize, identify and quantify the microbes that change in IBD patients during treatment. They will use this information to design simple and quick tests to reveal the optimal treatment for each affected patient, allow for personalized treatment plans based on each patient’s characteristics and be used to easily monitor each patient’s progress and modify treatment plans if needed. These tests will help clinicians use the right drug at the right time for the right patient. The researchers will also unravel the mechanisms underlying IBD development and identify new targets for future drug development. Their work will set the stage for future clinical trials aimed at restoring IBD patients’ microbes to a healthy state.

The project will reduce long-term disability and enable patients to reach deep and long-lasting remission, thereby improving quality of life and significant cost savings.

Please also see related past project: The Microbiota at the Intestinal Mucosa-Immune Interface: A Gateway for Personalized Health.