Australian IBD Microbiome Study

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an incurable chronic disabling disease that impacts health and quality of life of many people. Australia has high incidence/prevalence rates of IBD, with an annual cost to society of $3.6 billion. The ever-growing population of St George and Sutherland Shire currently stands at 0.5 million and includes ~2,000 IBD sufferers.

The IBD research group at St George Hospital has initiated the Australian IBD Microbiome Study – better known as the AIM Study – a multi-centre cohort study which has recruited 600 participants since its inception in June 2019 including >250 participants from the St George and Sutherland area.

The intention of this application is to generate crucial pilot data relating to the Australian IBD microbiota signature, to ensure that our larger cohort is effectively powered.

This information will help researchers to generate novel predictive models for translational utility to the clinic. The ultimate aim is to change the course of this lifelong disease thus enriching the health of the community through medical research at St George and Sutherland hospitals.

The AIM study was conceived at St George Hospital, which is the study epicentre that leads recruitment and is the analysis hub (Microbiome Research Centre, UNSW) and custodian of the study database. Ethical approval was granted in March 2019 and research governance approval for St George Hospital was granted in June 2019.

“We have recruited 790 participants to date; by June 2021 we had have collected 12-months’ of study data from the first 120 study participants (3 monthly biological samples and associated clinical data and participant reported outcome measures). Through this clinically focussed initiative, we are building a world-class research infrastructure which will deliver significant improvement to the treatment and health of our patients. The ultimate aim is to change the course of this lifelong disease in our patients,” shared Professor Georgina Hold, project lead and Professor of Gut Health, School of Clinical Medicine, UNSW Medicine & Health.

“The SSMRF funding has made metagenomic sequence analysis of the first 120 participants 12-month sample set to elucidate microbial changes associated with IBD a reality. This will allow us to identify key/critical variables that shape the Australian IBD microbiota profile in order to generate novel predictive models for translational utility to the clinic. This transformative investment in the research programme will act as the bedrock for future funding applications and will truly set St George and Sutherland Hospitals on the map as leaders in the IBD research field.”

Increased IBD research visibility

Significant progress has been made is raising the IBD research profile. The clinical trials matching platform Healthmatch has accepted the AIM Study onto its portfolio and is now providing a great additional recruitment pool. The AIM Study is also recruiting through the new JoinUS venture led by The George Institute of Global Health. Based on the significant progress in terms of patient recruitment, sample analysis and data analysis, a significant portfolio of AIM Study progress was presented at Australia Gastroenterology Week in September 2022.

Find out more about the AIM Study.

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