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Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences

High-resolution exploration of microbiota, inflammation and diet in Inflammatory Bowel Disease using parallelised 'big data' processing and analytics

Presenter: Adam Clooney (APC University College Cork/COrk Institute of Technology)

Co-authors: Dr. Marcus Claesson (University College Cork), Dr. Roy Sleator (Cork Institute of Technology), Dr. Aisling O'Driscoll (Cork Institute of Technology)


Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are chronic inflammatory diseases known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). These conditions cause life-long suffering to the patient as well as considerable drainage of healthcare resources. Symptoms include diarrhea, extreme fatigue and abdominal pain.These conditions can lead to more serious complications like intestinal bleeding, toxicmegacolon and rupture of the bowel. Westernised countries have the highest rates of IBD while countries undergoing westernisation are experiencing sustained and substantial increases. There are an estimated 100 trillion microbial cells in the human body. The majority of these bacteria are found in the gut and benefit the host in many ways including synthesis of vitamins and aid the immune system. Dysbiosis is a condition where there is an alteration in the microbial community and has been linked to conditions like IDB. Accurate and in-depth analysis of the role gut microbiota plays in IBD requires large sample numbers and ideally, over various time points. The best method to store faecal samples is to freeze at -80°C within 24 hours of sample collection. However, the acquisition of such samples can be difficult in this time frame, particularly if the patients are from rural areas. It is therefore important to assess the changes in the microbiota in the sample over varying times at room temperature (RT). Previous initial studies have suggested that the DNA becomes fragmented after 24 hours at RT, however the bacterial proportion is only significantly affected after 2weeks. It has been seen that even after two weeks the bacterial community composition does not change. For future analysis and sample acceptance it is important to analyse this further.