Introduction to the Geremia Group
The intestinal immune system faces the delicate task of maintaining a fine balance between regulatory and effector responses, so that tolerance is maintained against commensal bacteria and food antigens, while protective responses are mounted against pathogens.
When the host-microbial interaction is perturbed, chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine can occur, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s disease (CD and Ulcerative Colitis (UC).
Our research focuses on the characterization of the mucosal immune response and the host-microbial interaction in patients with IBD and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).
- PSC is a chronic disorder of the liver, characterised by progressive decrease in size of the bile ducts due to inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) that prevent a normal bile flow and eventually leads to cirrhosis and liver failure.
- PSC is associated with IBD in 80% of cases with intestinal inflammation exhibiting distinct features.
- Patients with IBD and PSC have a 4-5 times higher risk of developing colon cancer compared to UC alone and are also at increased risk of hepatobiliary malignancy.
Unfortunately, the pathogenesis of the disease is unknown and there is no curative treatment for patients. A better understanding of the mechanism involved in inflammation and increased cancer risk is needed to identify novel therapeutic strategies.