Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

July 23, 2018
2 min read
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Collaboration aims to ‘expand our understanding of IBD’s genetic underpinnings’

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Helmut Grasberger
Helmut Grasberger
John Kao
John Kao

The University of Michigan is partnering with scientific wellness company Arivale to investigate the genetic risk factors associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

University researchers John Kao, MD, and Helmut Grasberger, MD, will work with Arivale to further examine the phenotypic effects of variants in genes previously identified as important influences in IBD, according to a press release.

Arivale will supply a database with whole genome sequencing data from thousands of anonymous patients, as well as matched clinical tests, metabolomics, proteomics, gut microbiome sequencing and health history phenotypes from the same individuals.

Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease talked with Grasberger to learn more about the partnership and what it means for their future genetic research in IBD.

Healio: What are the aims of the partnership? What do you hope to accomplish?

Grasberger: This partnership aims to understand the genetic risk factors of inflammatory bowel disease, known as IBD. Our hope is that this new partnership between University of Michigan and Arivale will expand our understanding of IBD’s genetic underpinnings to assist in the discovery of more personalized solutions. Currently, there is no cure for IBD, a chronic, life-long condition that can be debilitating for some patients, so our collective work to better understand IBD is critical.

Healio: What is promising about genetic research in IBD?

Grasberger: Because patients with IBD manifest distinct disease subphenotypes and differ in response to medical therapy, genetic research should offer us clues about why these variations happen and how treatments can be tailored to individual patients. Having this opportunity to combine our knowledge of IBD with a cross-referencing of Arivale’s whole genome sequencing database and health history phenotypes, we can investigate the phenotypic effects of variants in the genes we’ve identified as important factors in IBD, taking our research to the next level.

Healio: What have previous studies shown?

Grasberger: Past research revealed numerous common genetic variants that are associated with risk for IBD. This has provided tremendous progress in our understanding of the pathogenesis of IBD. However, we now need to connect the dots from genetics to accurate and comprehensive phenotyping, to classify disease phenotypes on a molecular basis. This collaboration offers an important opportunity to join forces to leverage data and clinical expertise to better understand IBD symptoms and genetic risk factors, ultimately making a meaningful difference for patients suffering with this condition.

Healio: How will this partnership guide your future research?

Grasberger: Using Arivale’s extensive database will give us a more robust view of the disease and we hope, and expect, it will expand our understanding of immune-mediated gastrointestinal disorders and point us to new research avenues.

Disclosures: Grasberger reports no relevant financial disclosures.