Eastman Dental Institute


New research: what are cells saying to each other during inflammation?

24 June 2019

Andrew Smith and Gregory Sebepos-Rogers

Dr Andrew Smith and colleagues are celebrating receipt of a £179,000 grant from Crohn’s & Colitis UK to investigate how cells communicate with each other during inflammation.

The award represents the charity’s first-ever clinical research fellowship and will allow PhD student Dr Greg Sebepos-Rogers to look at the role of proteins IL-1β and optineurin (OPTN). 

Dr Smith said: “How cells communicate with each other is crucial in our understanding of inflammatory bowel disease. 

“Investigating how so-called ‘messenger proteins’ IL-1β and OPTN interact inside the cell during inflammation could uncover new targets for biological drugs.”

The study will also attempt to create organoids using cells taken from gut biopsies and blood samples from people with Crohn’s or Colitis.

These groups of cells will be grown together in the lab to create a 3D model of the gut which can be used to understand how gut and immune cells talk to each other under different conditions. 

Helen Terry, Director of Research at Crohn’s & Colitis UK said: “It’s incredibly important that we attract the top talent into Crohn’s and Colitis research and Greg is an exemplar of the type of clinician we want to pursue IBD as a career. 

“He is passionate and intelligent and we are extremely proud that he will be badged a Crohn’s & Colitis UK Fellow. 

“The research he is undertaking could lead to new treatments for people with Crohn’s and Colitis and we are excited to follow his journey over the next two years and beyond.”

Read more about the study

Pictured (L-R): Dr Andrew Smith and Dr Gregory Sebepos-Rogers