$280,000 grant for western Sydney researchers to help detect debilitating bowel disease

Blacktown Hospital inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) from left: clinical nurse specialist Maria Tiongson, fellow Dr Keval Pandya, specialist Dr Nikola Mitrev, service head Dr Viraj Kariyawasam, gastroenterology advanced trainee Dr Khalid Rasouli and dietician Brook Maguire.

People suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are set to have faster access to diagnosis and treatment thanks to a $280,000 research project at Western Sydney Local Health District.

IBD is a group term for autoimmune conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseases.

Diagnosis and monitoring of IBD currently requires invasive tests, but that could soon change thanks to research underway at Westmead, Blacktown and Royal Prince Alfred hospitals.

Dr Belal Chami, one of the study’s principle investigators, said the research had just received its first major grant of $280,000.

The idea is patients could do this simple test in five minutes at home, record the results on their smartphone and send it to their specialist.

“This would significantly improve the patient experience and outcomes,” Dr Chami said.

“What we’re looking for is the presence of myeloperoxidase, which is a protein found in immune cells associated with IBD. The level of myeloperoxidase found in faecal matter is linked to the disease severity.”

IBD is a debilitating disease affects around 85,000 Australians, including over 5,000 patients in western Sydney.

Onset usually occurs in a person’s mid-teens to twenties but can happen at any point in life.

The condition has a severe impact on quality of life due to symptoms including chronic diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss.

Blacktown Hospital IBD Service has grown exponentially since its inception in 2014, and has become a true multidisciplinary service and the tertiary referral centre for IBD patients in western Sydney.

“Clinical trials and research are an important aspect of the service and we are very proud to be associated with this grant,” said Dr Viraj Kariyawasam, head of IBD services at Blacktown Hospital.

Patients are now being recruited to take part in this research project. To find out more or to participate, contact Dr Belal Chami via email- belal.chami@sydney.edu.au.