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Dr. Aaron Peace (CEO C-TRIC), Dr. Tony Bjourson (Ulster University) & Dr. Sean Ennis (Genomics Medicine Ireland)

Dr. Aaron Peace (CEO C-TRIC), Dr. Tony Bjourson (Ulster University) & Dr. Sean Ennis (Genomics Medicine Ireland)

Transformational Research Aims to Unlock Keys to Lifelong Disorders including MS and IBD
Irish life sciences company, Genomics Medicine Ireland, is to collaborate with the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC), Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) and Ulster University to undertake comprehensive, population scale genomic research studies in Northern Ireland.

The first two studies will focus on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), lifelong chronic diseases for which there is currently no known cause or cure. The studies are launching in the Western HSC Trust with roll out planned across Northern Ireland in early 2018.

People from across Northern Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are being invited to contact their healthcare professionals to learn how they can participate in the studies which aim to identify the genetic cause of these diseases and ultimately find better treatments, diagnoses and cures for these chronic conditions.

MS is one of the most prevalent diseases of the central nervous system and directly affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide and more than 4,500 people in Northern Ireland. IBD is chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders primarily affecting adults in the prime of their life. There are two major forms of IBD, Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC) affecting about 8,000 in Northern Ireland.

Volunteers participating in these studies will be contributing to important scientific research aimed at unlocking the mystery of the genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to MS and IBD. Researchers will combine advanced scientific technology in genomics, the study of all of a person’s genes, together with detailed clinical information to search for answers that one day might lead to the development of new therapeutics for more effective prevention and wellness.

The Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) is a unique facility promoting and facilitating translational and clinical research, the primary objective of which is to reduce both the time to market and the costs associated with research and development of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics. C-TRIC’s unique infrastructure and key support staff will help facilitate the clinical research and innovation of these studies.

Dr. Sean Ennis, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Genomics Medicine Ireland said, “We look forward to working closely with C-TRIC and Ulster University to develop better new means to optimise health and patient outcomes. The size and characteristics of the Northern Ireland population can powerfully advance scientific discovery as our researchers are able to pinpoint variations in DNA that are relevant to these diseases and useful for improving medicine. The resulting therapies to cure and prevent these diseases will benefit patients both Northern Ireland and around the world.”

Dr. Aaron Peace, CEO of C-TRIC and Director of Research and Development, Western Trust said: “C-TRIC and the Western Trust are delighted to be part of this exciting research collaboration with Ulster University. This is the largest genomics research study undertaken on the island of Ireland to date that has the potential to make a significant genetic contribution to new therapeutic opportunities for people with MS and IBD. C-TRIC, Northern Ireland’s healthcare innovation hub and award winning centre is proud to manage these sponsored studies for GMI.”

Professor Tony Bjourson, Director of Ulster University’s Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine who is leading the project in Northern Ireland said: “MS and IBD are severe, long-term diseases which dramatically impact a person’s ability to live a normal, active life. We know that genomics holds the key to many unanswered questions and Ulster University is one of the leading institutions focusing on this area of highly specialist, personalised approaches to medicine. The collection of genomic data among Northern Ireland’s population will help drive development of novel therapeutic drugs and diagnostics and ultimately we hope, will lead to more targeted treatments for these debilitating conditions.”

Genomics Medicine Ireland is currently undertaking genomic studies in the Republic of Ireland. The company is building Ireland’s first, purpose-built genomics sequencing laboratory to undertake world class research into major chronic diseases within oncology, neuroscience and immunology that affect hundreds of thousands of people on the island of Ireland and hundreds of millions worldwide.