Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Olivia Kelleher

A University College Cork (UCC) led research project that seeks to revolutionise how Crohn’s disease is treated has been awarded €5.4 million in funding by the European Union.

Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic inflammation of the intestine where current treatment options are limited. It affects up to three million people across Europe.

GENEGUT, a four-year research project led by UCC’s School of Pharmacy in partnership with APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre at UCC and funded by Horizon Europe, plans to develop the first oral RNA-based therapy for ileal Crohn’s Disease.

CD drastically impacts the quality of life of affected patients – and that of their families, friends, and caregivers. Most significantly, however, there is no satisfactory treatment. Despite advances, there is a pressing need for novel, advanced therapies.

Treatment

Over the course of four years, GENEGUT’s aim to develop a non-invasive, safe, effective, and targeted treatment will be realised in the form of a first-in-class, orally administered RNA-based therapy. The RNA therapy will be developed using complementary technologies that selectively target inflamed intestinal cells that reside in specific regions of the small intestine.

The European Commission recently selected the GENEGUT research and innovation action for funding as one out of 84 submitted project proposals.

Professor Caitriona O’Driscoll, GENEGUT Project Coordinator said the multidisciplinary team in GENEGUT will pioneer the development of the next generation of therapeutics for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease by producing a patient friendly orally administered RNA medicine.

“The project will span the pre-clinical to clinical space thus accelerating the clinical translation of orally available RNA therapeutics and ensuring early access of life-altering medicines for the patient. For these patients, this would be the first option to finally manage the chronic disease and lead a life of improved quality.”

The project brings together the European Federation of Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis Associations with researchers, expert clinical scientists, SMEs and large pharma companies with expertise in global proteomics, nanotechnologies, novel biomaterials, multicellular models, drug delivery systems and production as well as innovation management and science communication.

 

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