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IBD Southampton research study

Immunology

An immune cell

Your body's defence system

In IBD, your body's defence system causes gut inflammation. We'd like to find out whether your immune system is functioning as it should be, and if not, why not. 

The immune system

Normally, our body has a defence mechanism to protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances. This is called the immune system, which is a complex combination of different types of cells and proteins, circulating in our blood.

When nasty bacteria enter our body through the gut or by other means, the cells of the immune system, along with the helper proteins, come together to destroy the bacteria and protect our body from infection.

Some bacteria are helpful, especially for digestion and keeping the gut healthy, so the immune system normally leaves these good bacteria alone.

However, in people with IBD, the immune system often mistakes helpful bacteria and the other substances in the gut as hostile, and sends special fighter cells to kill them. This then results in the gut lining becoming sore and inflamed, resulting in IBD.

Discovering the reasons why

We'd like to find out whether the immune system is functioning as it should in your body.

We do this by extracting a tiny amount of cells from the immune system through a simple blood test. If you agree, we will aim to do this at the same time as blood is being taken as part of your normal clinic visit.

If we are able to identify why the immune system isn't working as it should, we may be able to understand what’s causing the condition, and in the long term possibly come up with better treatments.

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