NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Genomics researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and at the University of Colorado at Boulder will work as partners with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America to study how microbes in the human gut contribute to inflammatory bowel disease, the foundation said today.
The foundation’s Gut Microbiome Initiative will use metagenomic sequencing and informatics methods to develop new molecular and bioinformatics tools that can be used in the development of cures for chronic digestive diseases.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively referred to as IBD, affect over 1.4 million Americans, CCFA said in a statement.
Jeffrey Gordon, director of Washington University’s Center for Genome Sciences, will serve as principal investigator on the project, which will focus on identical and fraternal twins and their mothers first, and then on IBD patients.
Gordon said in a statement that "knowing how to rapidly and accurately define the nature and operations of the gut microbiome should help investigators develop new insights about the mechanisms that lead to IBD, better ways to diagnose and categorize IBD, new therapeutic approaches, and ultimately, new ways to prevent these disorders in susceptible individuals.”
University of Colorado’s Rob Knight will lead a group developing data-mining and statistical and visualization tools that can handle the “complex and massive datasets” the genomics research will generate.
The tools and the gut microbiome datasets will be made publicly available in order to be of use to other researchers, CCFA said.
CCFA also said it expects the efforts will help in the development of new molecular diagnostics.