Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), consisting of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), happens when the immune system lining the intestines becomes intolerant of the foreign material, most likely the bacteria, that passes through and normally fills the bowels. The Lord lab is investigating how this loss of “tolerance” happens in IBD, to learn how the immune system normally coexists peacefully in close proximity to gut contents.
While still incurable and debilitating, IBD has become much more manageable for some patients in recent years largely due to new and highly specific medications that can often stop immune cells from inflaming the intestines. By carefully examining how such medications specifically affect immune cells in the blood and intestinal biopsies of IBD patients, and correlating these changes with therapeutic success, we provide a better understanding of how IBD happens and, more importantly, how we may ultimately fix it.
Along the way, we are identifying differences in the immune systems of different IBD patients that may explain or predict disease behavior, and serve as “biomarkers” to guide a more personalized approach to treatment.
James Lord, MD, PhD
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