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Charity launches pioneering pain project to further understand IBD

National charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK launches new research initiative that aims to understand what is unique about pain in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with the hope of preventing and managing this symptom and improving quality of life for people who suffer with it.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – the two main types of IBD are lifelong conditions of the gut. Symptoms include urgent and frequent bloody diarrhoea, extreme fatigue and pain. Pain is a debilitating symptom experienced by many people, even when they’re in remission (when symptoms are largely under control).
Pain has been identified as a high priority focus that is under-researched and with the launch of this research award looking specifically into pain, the charity is dedicating £220,000 of its research funding in 2019.
Crohn’s & Colitis UK is seeking research applications focusing on four main themes associated with pain: mechanisms of pain in patients with IBD; the epidemiology, classification and assessment of pain in patients with IBD; improving treatment for patients with IBD who have pain; and the experience of patients with IBD who have pain.
Applications can range from those seeking to further understanding of the pathogenesis of pain in patients with IBD and where it comes from (including molecular, microbiomic, neural, inflammatory, psychological, social mechanisms), to those who are researching novel approaches to pain management, encompassing pharmacological, non-pharmacological and alternative health strategies. Within the targeted call, Crohn’s & Colitis UK would like to give a voice to the patient experience and the impact pain has on their lives.
Erin Walker, a 37-year-old living with colitis in London experiences chronic neuropathic pain in her abdomen, with no pathological cause. She says, ‘the pain I experience day-in-day-out means that my whole life is affected. Sometimes all I can do is sleep to try and make the day go quicker. I wish that doctors could find something ‘wrong’ with me so it can be fixed, but it’s unbelievably frustrating that the pain seems to have no cause or trigger.’   
As well as the targeted researched call, Crohn’s & Colitis UK is launching the Pain Collaborative Research Network, the first network of its kind bringing together experts from all over the world. The network aims to stimulate research into the field of pain in IBD and create opportunities for collaborative projects across scientific disciplines. 
Christine Norton, Chair of the Pain Collaborative Research Steering Group says, “We know that pain is one of the worst symptoms for people with Crohn’s or Colitis, whether this an acute or chronic pain and even if patients are in clinical remission. By launching a targeted research call into pain, Crohn’s & Colitis UK are showing their dedication to understanding this symptom, with the aim of improving the quality of life people with Crohn’s or Colitis. I’m delighted to be chairing the Steering Group and the prospect of the best minds in the world collaborating on IBD pain projects is extremely exciting.”