Based at the National Bowel Research Centre the team pioneered the recording of activity from pain sensing nerves from the human gut in order to find better way of treating pain in Crohn's disease.

This project extends these studies and will examine the mechanisms by which these pain sensing nerves are activated in ulcerative colitis (UC). The aim of the project is to find new treatments which can act on these nerves and reduce pain. 

The research team

The project is being led by Dr David Bulmer, Lecturer in Neurogastroenterology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Co-investigators are Dr James Lindsay, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Senior Lecturer at the Royal London and Professor Charles Knowles.

Why study pain in Ulcerative Colitis?

Pain is a major feature of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and affects individuals suffering both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is estimated that around 300,000 individuals around the UK live with IBD and very often these individuals will live with this incurable disease from their early teens. As well as being at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, individuals with IBD often suffer considerable pain when their disease flares up.

Currently when the pain is too severe, an individual will need to be admited to hospital where morphine-like pain relief can be given. This in itself brings its own problems as well as the toll on the individual of the pain and having to be admitted. If a new therapy could be identified it would change the lives of thousands of people.