Bio-Me part of unique Nordic IBD initiative

Bio-Me is one of the participants in a new Nordic project that will develop personalized treatment for IBD patients.

In December 2018, the Nordic Council’s research department awarded Nordfors 30 million for a research project with the theme of personalized medicine for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The study has been titled NORDTREAT – The Nordic IBD treatment strategy trial and is the first of its kind to test out personalized medicine for IBD here in the Nordic countries.

The study is scheduled to take effect in 2020. Senior physician Marte Lie Høivik (pictured) at the Department of Gastromedical Medicine at the University of Oslo has great faith that this project will boost medical collaboration between the Nordic countries.

What is personalized medicine and why is it so important to patients?

Personalized medicine is the medicine chosen to specifically address the patient’s biological properties. Thus, treatment can be particularly effective. With regard to IBD, we have not yet developed methods that can help us predict who is at risk of developing serious illness. This also means that we cannot predict which IBD patients need the mildest or strongest medication. This can further lead to both under- and over-treatment – which affects patients both in the short and long term.

How should this be tested on IBD patients?

In the NORDTREAT study, researchers will conduct a clinical study in which newly diagnosed IBD patients are offered the opportunity to take a special type of blood sample (protein profile) that has previously been shown to be able to divide IBD patients into low-to-high risk groups.

Patients in the low-risk group will be treated according to normal routine (with escalation if required), while those in the high-risk group will be treated with a biological drug from the start. This is called “top down” treatment.

The goal is to see if such treatment – from the time of diagnosis at the time – could lead to a better course of the disease than the patients treated according to normal routine. The patients will be compared with patients who are being followed in the IBSEN III study, a study whose main purpose has also been to find and test methods that can be used in personalized treatment for IBD patients.

Works to optimize the sample

The blood test used in this study will not be offered to all IBD patients today, as NORDTREAT needs to do more research to perfect it. In addition, the researchers in the study want to look for markers also in faeces / intestinal flora and tissues. The goal is to develop a safe test that consists of either a blood sample or a combination of several types of samples.

Nordic cooperation with many benefits

This study is a collaborative project between researchers and clinicians from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, with Swedish professor Jonas Halfvarson from Ørebro University Hospital at the forefront. Here in Norway, it is Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo that control the ship. Gradually, several Norwegian hospitals will be included in the project.

In addition to hospitals, the patient associations in the affected countries are also included in the study. Here in Norway, LMF has supported the application for the study.

One of the many benefits of conducting the study in the Nordic countries is that we have a relatively similar incidence of IBD, and the health care system has almost the same infrastructure. Thus, the researchers have a good basis for comparison between the countries.

The NORDTREAT group hopes and believes that this study can be the seed that sits the basis for further professional cooperation between the Nordic countries.