Pediatric specialist in EGIDs helps lead $6.25 million NIH clinical research project

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A pediatric specialist in eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs) at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado will help lead a five-year, $6.25 million clinical research project recently funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Glenn T. Furuta, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, will serve as the administrative director and site investigator of the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR), funded by the NIH grant to research eosinophilic and allergic disorders and to train investigators in how to conduct clinical research.

"CEGIR presents an outstanding opportunity for experts from across the world to perform collaborative clinical research and to train a new generation of investigators," Furuta said. "Research will be guided by patient advocacy groups and results from these studies will bring transformative changes to the care of patients with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs)."

EGIDs are chronic inflammatory disorders. These conditions are thought to be triggered by allergic hypersensitivity to certain foods and an over-accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract of white blood cells called eosinophils, which are part of the body's immune system. Eosinophilic disorders can cause a variety of gastrointestinal complaints including reflux-like symptoms, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, tissue scarring, fibrosis, the formation of strictures, diarrhea, abdominal pain, failure to grow in childhood, and other medical complications.

When inflammation is in the esophagus, the condition is known as eosinophilic esophagitis. When it is in the stomach, the condition is called eosinophilic gastritis. When it is in the colon, it is known as eosinophilic colitis. While most prior work on these conditions has concentrated on eosinophilic esophagitis, the new grant will also focus on eosinophilic gastritis and colitis.

Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, director of the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, is the principal investigator on the grant. In addition to Colorado and Ohio, CEGIR includes clinical researchers from Rady Children's Hospital, Lurie Children's Hospital, Northwestern University, Riley Children's Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, Tufts University, University of North Carolina, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Bern University Switzerland.

These sites were chosen based on their previous record of collaboration; expertise in relevant clinical specialties, including gastroenterology, allergy, immunology and pathology; the ability to integrate children and adult patients into the consortium; and their well-established record of excellence in clinical research. These sites are considered the major centers working on these diseases, and these sites have access to a comprehensive database of more than 8,000 patients.

The CEGIR will also work with patient advocacy groups, including the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders, the Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease, and the Eosinophilic Family Coalition, to address the clinical problems of most importance to patients and their families.

"Collaborative research is critical for progress in understanding and treating these rare diseases," says Dr. Furuta. "Little could be accomplished without the support of patients and patient advocacy groups, our professional networks, and clinicians and researchers from around the globe. These conditions are a global health concern, and it will take everyone working together to address them. We are so fortunate to be able to formalize these collaborations through this new consortium and the stellar infrastructure and processes of the Rare Disease Research Network."

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