U-M enters research collaboration to study inflammatory bowel disease

June 27, 2018  //  FOUND IN: News

A new research partnership between U-M and scientific wellness company Arivale aims to understand the genetic risk factors of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic condition affecting 1.6 million people in the U.S.


Approximately 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed in the U.S. each year and includes those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These chronic, lifelong conditions can be treated but not cured, pointing to the need for more research.


The partnership, facilitated by Fast Forward Medical Innovation at the U-M Medical School, will use phenotypes available in the Arivale database to inform the development of potential lifestyle and pharmaceutical therapies for the condition.


“As IBD is a complex and challenging disease to treat, our hope is that this new partnership will expand our understanding of its genetic underpinnings to assist in the discovery of more personalized solutions,” said Michigan Medicine gastroenterologist John Kao, M.D., lead researcher and associate professor of internal medicine at the U-M. “Arivale’s database, scientific foundation and computational expertise combined with our clinical experience and deep understanding of immune-mediated gastrointestinal disorders offers a unique opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago.”


Kao and U-M co-principal investigator Helmut Grasberger, M.D., will collaborate with Arivale scientists to investigate the phenotypic effects of variants in genes identified in Kao’s lab as important factors in IBD. The research will be powered by Arivale’s database — including whole genome sequencing data collected from thousands of de-identified individuals — and matched with clinical tests, metabolomics, proteomics, gut microbiome sequencing and health history phenotypes collected from the same individuals.


“Many genes are found to be associated with risk for IBD, but further investigation is needed to understand how variants in these genes offer clues toward more tailored therapeutic options,” said Andrew Magis, director of research at Arivale. “This collaboration offers an important opportunity to leverage the valuable data that Arivale has collected and the expertise of our colleagues at U-M to ultimately make a meaningful difference for patients suffering from this disease.”