Global IBD Collaborative Research

Shaji Sebastian, ClinCom Chair and Murat Toruner, ClinCom Member

Shaji Sebastian 

Murat Toruner

In the past, IBD was believed to be predominantly a disease of the Western world. However, recent studies have shown a rapidly increasing incidence of IBD in newly developing areas such as the Middle East, South America and Asia. By the middle of this century, the prevalence of IBD in low and lower-middle income countries (LLMICs) and newly industrialised nations may surpass that in the West. At the same time, the compound prevalence in the Western world and increasing health care costs will add to the challenges in IBD care. As a result of these epidemiological trends, IBD is projected to be an increasing global health burden.

How should we tackle the current challenges and prepare for the rapid increases in the incidence of IBD in the LLMICs? We need to use the power of collaborative research and education. Since different regions and countries may have different patient populations, genetic backgrounds and environmental factors, international collaborative IBD research is required so that researchers can share their experiences with their counterparts, learn from each other and pool their resources. However, currently most clinical trials do not represent diverse populations since most of the patients included in these studies are from the Western world. Global collaborations can help in recruiting larger and more diverse patient cohorts, which will lead to more generalisable results and make studies more robust. Since research projects involving multiple countries have a great chance of obtaining funding from international organisations and foundations, these funds definitely support collaborative research efforts and cooperation. By breaking down regional barriers, international collaboration can lead to quicker development of therapies, diagnostic tools and treatment algorithms and possibly to a better understanding of disease pathogenesis. ECCO is leading the world in bringing together researchers from diverse populations, and the new ECCO Global Grant is a vital step in this process. ClinCom, through the National Study Groups platform, can foster collaboration between multiple researchers and research groups.

Research is also central to elevating and ensuring equity of care for the global IBD population. Global collaborations can lead to optimised management strategies that reflect the availability of resources in different regions and countries. To optimise and harmonise high-quality care, we need to understand the local challenges. In this regard, the recently initiated ECCO Consensus on IBD in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), led by ClinCom and S-ECCO, will provide crucial insights and also opportunities to develop a road map for focused interventions that match the needs of specific populations. We look forward to welcoming 20 participants from across the world to this initiative, with the first F2F meeting due to be held at the ECCO’24 Congress in Stockholm. In addition, ECCO is continuing its efforts to provide high-quality education and training in clinical care and research. Educational activities such as the ClinCom Workshop and other training opportunities at the ECCO Congress will be key to the provision of inclusive training.

In conclusion, we need global solutions to the global challenge of IBD and ECCO is leading these efforts through current and upcoming initiatives.

Posted in ECCO News, Committee News, ECCO'23, ClinCom, Volume 18, Issue 4