The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has joined a new consortium announced today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases called eosinophilic disorders.
A five-year, $6.25 million NIH grant will establish the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers, or CEGIR.
Eosinophilic disorders involve an excessive number of white blood cells called eosinophils within the gastrointestinal tract. As components of the immune system, eosinophils accumulate as an allergic reaction to particular foods. "Eosinophilic disorders tend to be more severe and more persistent than other, more familiar food allergies," said pediatric allergist Jonathan M. Spergel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Pediatric Eosinophilic Disorders at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Spergel added that eosinophilic disorders have only recently been recognized as distinct conditions. The often painful disorders involve swelling and inflammation, and may cause weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn and swallowing difficulties. They can affect any age group, but are often first discovered in children having feeding difficulties and failure to thrive. Many patients with these conditions rely on costly nutritional formulas instead of eating food.
Most prior research on eosinophilic disorders has concentrated on eosinophilic esophagitis--inflammation occurring in the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. Eosinophilic inflammation occurring in the stomach is called eosinophilic gastritis, and in the colon (part of the large intestine), is called eosinophilic colitis. The new grant will focus on all three conditions.
The Center for Pediatric Eosinophilic Disorders at CHOP is one of the nation's premier programs for these conditions. The CHOP center joins the nation's other leading clinical research centers for these diseases in the new consortium.
The principal investigator of the NIH grant is Marc Rothenberg, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center. Other clinical researchers in the CEGIR are from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Rady Children's Hospital, Lurie Children's Hospital, Northwestern University, Riley Children's Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, Tufts University, the University of North Carolina and Bern University in Switzerland. These sites are considered the major centers working on eosinophilic diseases, providing clinical care to over 8,000 patients with these disorders.
CHOP's Dr. Spergel is the principal investigator of the grant's training (career development) component. In this position he will train fellows and other faculty in eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders.
The CEGIR will also work with several strong patient advocacy groups, including the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED), the Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease (CURED) and the Eosinophilic Family Coalition (EFC), to address the clinical problems of greatest importance to patients and families.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia