Ongoing Research Funded by DHF

Solving Medication Resistance in IBD Patients with High Level Mapping of Digestive Immune Cells

2022  | Disease: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Principal Researcher: Ronen Sumagin, PhD

Principal Investigator: Ronen Sumagin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology (Experimental Pathology), Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine

When conventional medications, such as corticosteroids or 5-aminosalicylates, fail to work in IBD patients, biologics that block a critical inflammatory molecule called tumor-necrosis-factor alpha (TNFα) are commonly prescribed. However, one third of patients receive no relief from these biologic drugs, and other patients become resistant to the therapy over time, forcing physicians to pursue other avenues of treatment for their patients. In previous work, the Sumagin lab and other researchers established the important role of immune cells, called neutrophils, in IBD. Recent studies revealed that in inflamed tissue there are diverse neutrophil populations with distinct functions. With the DHF grant, Dr. Sumagin is using innovative single-cell sequencing to map neutrophil diversity in IBD. His research team seeks to determine whether specific neutrophil subtype(s) dictate resistance to anti-TNFα therapy. This effort offers great promise for unraveling new disease processes and identifying predictive biomarkers of treatment outcomes or drug targets to prevent anti-TNFα resistance in IBD patients.  Physicians could then predict ahead of time which drugs may work for their patients living with IBD. This valuable insight could potentially decrease symptom or disease flares, as a result of drug inefficacy or resistance, in the long-term treatment of patients.

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