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New Biobank to Help Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease


By Michelle Brubaker   |   November 06, 2014

Nearly two million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Most are diagnosed with IBD before the age of 30, resulting in a chronic condition that can severely affect their quality of life. In an effort to better understand IBD and develop new, more effective treatments, UC San Diego Health has opened an IBD biobank, which just enrolled its 100th patient.

A biobank is a type of bio-repository that collects and stores patient samples along with clinical information in order to further scientific investigation of a variety of diseases. Biobanks have become an important resource in medical research and personalized medicine.

William Sandborn

“We officially started running the IBD biobank in June 2014, and in just a few months, we are now celebrating our 100th patient,” said William Sandborn, MD, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at UC San Diego Health. “The biobank is now reaching a size where it can be used by researchers to conduct specific studies. We will be initiating studies that will evaluate the role of microbiome in IBD and how to optimize the selection and dosing of various biologic therapies for IBD. We anticipate these studies will ultimately result in improved patient care.”

Patients who volunteer to be part of the UC San Diego Health IBD biobank donate DNA, blood, stool and endoscopy biopsy samples at regular intervals over time. The IBD biobank is unique in that there is also a collection of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and digitized pathology so each patient is well characterized.

The biobank is a regional collaboration. The partnership includes UC San Diego Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute, San Diego Super Computer, Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute, JC Venter Institute, Illumina and Prometheus Laboratories - a division of Nestle Health Sciences.

“We are honored to be working with such progressive leadership and outstanding clinical scientific talent," said Sharat Singh, chief strategy officer at Prometheus. "This kind of public and private institutional collaboration will lead to significant improvements in the patient's disease management by providing personalized treatments through novel and innovative diagnostic solutions."

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common forms of IBD and impact the small intestine and colon. Clinical symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, fecal urgency and weight loss. Serious complications such as bowel obstruction, colon cancer, malnutrition and abscesses can also occur, resulting in hospitalization and the possible surgical removal of portions of the bowel and colon.

The IBD biobank will enable physicians to provide more individualized care and customized treatment options to this patient population.

“A lot of planning and tireless work went into the IBD biobank. We are extremely confident in our efforts and the improvements that will be made in IBD,” said Sandborn.

Sandborn added that the strong growth in clinical and translational research at UC San Diego has allowed the IBD biobank to emerge.

“It is another step towards UC San Diego Health Sciences reaching its full potential as a leader in clinical care, basic science, laboratory research and translational research. Our entire team is extremely proud to be part of this evolution,” said Sandborn.

Related Specialties

Gastroenterology and Digestive Diseases