Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder with a heterogeneous pathophysiology and phenotype. This COST action was set up to gain more knowledge on (epi)genetic factors in IBS, its role in the different IBS phenotypes and its pathophysiology by creating a pan-European interdisciplinary network of teams from fields such as human molecular genetics, epigenetics, microbiomics, molecular pathology, neurophysiology and neurogastroenterology, immunology and psychiatry. Creation of such an expanded network would yield a vast amount of biological samples from IBS patients and controls, while it would also lead to international harmonisation of procedures, sample processing and biobank procedures for sample storage and handling.
This Action, GENIEUR, has successfully established a strong international network of scientists with established track records and clinicians from a variety of disciplines (basic science, immunology, microbiology, (epi)genetics, gastroenterology). This unique collaboration network enables to sample biological specimen in all IBS subtypes and in controls on a large scale. During the course of this COST Action, collection of large amounts of biological samples was not achieved. However, due to the research- and clinical collaborations built in this Action, these samples will be collected and stored in Biobanks in the near future.
This Action has successfully harmonized sample collection- and processing protocols and made the resulting standard operating procedures available to all interested parties. The Action has also resulted in successfully obtaining ethical approval to collect patient samples for storage in dedicated Biobanks and subsequent sample analyses in 10 countries, while in 8 others, this ethical approval is pending.
During this project, 20 short term scientific missions (STSMs) and two Training Schools, dedicated to discuss this project and to establish collaboration between participating centres took place. These activities were pivotal to ensure successful follow-up projects in which the established procedures, harmonisation on protocols and ethical approval to store patient samples will deliver the necessary biological samples to take knowledge on IBS pathogenesis to the next level. Taken together, this Action did not yet deliver new insight into the pathogenesis of IBS, but it did construct the unique interdisciplinary infrastructure to obtain this in follow-up projects.
This Action has already impacted on the scientific community through several publications in high impact scientific journals. Clinicians have been updated on the progress at gastroenterology conferences. Patients can benefit from this Action by consulting the Actions website.
Dr. Freddy Troost, Action Rapporteur, Associate professor Nutrition and Gastroenterology, Maastricht University Campus Venlo, The Netherlands