This study will use state-of-the-art gene sequencing techniques to examine biopsies taken from patients with Crohn's disease who are undergoing surgery.

The research aims to identify the genes that are regulated by a specific biological receptor known as AHR (aryl hydrocarbon receptor). AHR has been shown to regulate the immune response in animals and the research aims to discover what genes it interacts with in humans in both health and disease for the first time.

It is anticipated that this will lead to future functional studies and clinical trials.

The research team

The study is being led by Dr Paul Harrow, Clinical Research Fellow in Immunobiology at Queen Mary University. He will be supported by Dr Andrew Stagg, Professor James Lindsay and Dr Michael Barnes.

Why explore the immune system in Crohn's disease?

Patients and their doctors agree that finding out more about the environmental factors that affect the nature of their Inflammatory Bowel Disease is important. The main focus of this study, AHR, is known to moderate a number of environmental factors, including external (diet and pollution) and internal (the microbiome). It is therefore considered an important target for research.

This study will, for the first time in humans, comprehensively examine the effects of AHR signalling in the gut. This will help to identify new drug and/or dietary targets for future clinical trials in the near future (2 years).