Translational Medicine is the realisation of scientific discovery being delivered to patients for their clinical benefit.
The Department of Gastroenterology is committed to carry out world-class biomedical research that translates from laboratory bench to hospital bedside.
We work closely with strategic partners and industry to translate our scientific findings into practical ways to improve human health throughout the world.
Crohn’s disease is an unpleasant condition in which ulceration can affect any part of the gut resulting in abdominal pain, diarrhoea and weight loss.
Research at the University of Liverpool has revealed increased numbers of the bacterium Escherichia coli stuck to, and inside, of the bowel in this condition. Following uptake across the gut, this particular type of E. coli shows marked ability to survive and multiply within underlying tissue macrophages.
Laboratory studies showed that soluble dietary plant fibres, particularly those from plantains (‘green bananas’), could stop these E. coli from sticking to the cells lining the bowel. Various antibiotic combinations have also successfully been identified with ability to kill the E. coli after they have invaded the tissue.
Supported by the NIHR Specialist BRC in Microbial Diseases, two clinical trials are underway to see if (i) Crohn’s disease relapse may be treated by antibiotics and, (ii) whether relapse may be prevented by long-term dietary supplementation with soluble plantain fibre, in collaboration with a commercial partner (Provexis Plc) with the help of competitive SMART awards from the DTI and from the North West Development Agency.
Work in the Department is exploring the possibility that soluble plant fibres may also improve health by inhibiting epithelial adhesion and translocation by pathogenic diarrhoea-causing gut bacteria, responsible annually for about 1.8 million deaths worldwide.