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The Mater Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Research Group recently held their inaugural symposium to share novel research findings, and discuss innovation and the future of the group.
The key focus for the symposium was engagement and collaboration between the clinical IBD group at Mater Health and Mater Research which includes the IBD clinical trials unit and IBD translational research laboratory.
Gastroenterology Director Associate Professor Jakob Begun is the clinical lead of IBD service at Mater Health and IBD research group leader at Mater Research.
“The symposium was a great success as we were able to hear from translational researchers performing lab-based research and those performing clinical research, who gave us excellent feedback on how we can improve our research group’s efforts,” Associate Professor Begun said.
“This was also our first time reaching out to the broader community of gastroenterologists in Brisbane and we have been able to generate pathways for referrals into the trials unit.”
Dr Yoon-Kyo An is the Clinical Lead of IBD Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and said the symposium was an excellent platform for researchers and clinicians to come together to optimise IBD research at Mater.
“We invited clinicians from the Mater IBD service plus expert panel members, private gastroenterologist and our research team from the CTU and the Translational Research Institute (TRI),” Dr Yoon said.
Highlights of the symposium included an update on the Mater IBD Biobank which is a repository of biospecimen from IBD patients along with clinical metadata.
“The collection commenced in 2014 and we have samples from both healthy control and people with IBD. We have collected from 728 subjects who are enrolled in our biobank. We may have one of the largest IBD biobank in Australia,” Associate Professor Begun said.
“The biospecimens collected through the Mater IBD biobank is used to undertake research to optimise IBD management and probe the causes of IBD, as well as identifying novel therapeutic targets.”
The team also discussed investigator initiated studies including the AURORA study conducted in collaboration with the ANZIBDC (Australia New Zealand IBD Consortium).
“This is an Australian national study involving 24 sites to evaluate the real-life experience of ustekinumab in patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease,” Dr An said.
“Through this study we aim to address unknown questions including the effect of immunomodulators, microbiome and drug levels on clinical response; and hopefully can identify how we can best utilise a current therapy (ustekinumab) in practice for IBD patients.”
They also discussed another study, STOPit which is a multicentre study in Australia assessing the efficacy and safety of tofacitinib for treatment of chronic pouchitis.
“This therapy is currently approved for ulcerative colitis, but we are trying to determine if it is efficacious in a new indication,” Dr An said.
“We will also define predictors of response and the impact of tofacitinib on the gut microbiome, immune cell gene expression and inflammatory responses.”
The team is hopeful that their continued collaboration between health and research will result in access to more clinical trials for patients, world class research studies performed at Mater Research and ultimately better outcomes for their patients.
To find out more about Gastroenterology services at Mater including clinical trials please visit, https://www.mater.org.au/health/services/gastroenterology-and-hepatology
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