Gastroenterology and hepatology
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis as major types, are important causes of chronic morbidity. These disorders are characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and have an episodic, lifetime course, requiring long-term health care. The incidence of IBD has increased dramatically during the last 50 years, but for unknown reasons. The pathogenic mechanisms causing IBD are also largely unknown, as is the episodic nature of these disorders. We address these questions through experimental, clinical and epidemiological studies. Aiming to improve the medical care of patients with IBD and other inflammatory diseases, we try to delineate events at the molecular and cellular level leading to disease, and to identify diagnostic and predictive markers.
Diagnosis of IBD is complicated and involves endoscopy and analysis of biopsies. There is therefore a great need for novel diagnostic biomarkers as well as prognostic and activity markers. We are evaluating a range of inflammatory biomarkers, including nitric oxide, several cytokines and eosinophil proteins. With respect to pathological mechanisms of IBD, we perform array experiments to analyze gene expression in active IBD, search for autoantigenes and analyze the possible involvement of eosinophils and viruses in the disease process.
We also have a large interest in the enteric nervous system, and how gut peptides like GLP-1 and Ghrelin regulate motility, blood flow and secretion in IBD and in irritable bowel syndrome. For these studies we utilize e.g. a "SmartPill", a wireless motility capsule that records physiological parameters during it's passage through the gastrointestinal tract.