Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is a chronic debilitating condition affecting the gut, and for reasons unknown the prevalence is rising in newly developed countries. While there are many advanced therapies now available, all of them fail to induce remission in up to 50% of patients treated. Many therapeutic targets in IBD overlap with other autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, which highlights the need to better understand what drives inflammation across tissue sites so we can develop new effective treatments. One therapeutic target of interest is PD-1 – which is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that acts as an immunological brake to maintain homeostasis.
‘I am very pleased to have been awarded the MRC fellowship for funding of my DPhil project,’ said Tom. ‘I hope to shed light on the biological mechanism of PD-1 in autoimmune conditions, as well as tissue-specific changes that may predispose oncological patients to immunotherapy-related adverse events.’
‘The aim of my research project is to explore early tissue responses to PD-1 therapy in both ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. I will develop an innovative ex-vivo model to study drug effects on precision cut tissue slices, which benefits from an improved viability compared to using whole tissue biopsies while retaining spatial integrity. I have an excellent team of supervisors that include an academic gastroenterologist, and basic scientists spanning across NDORMS and the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM).’