Scots university’s £1m grant to research diet that will aid Crohn’s victims

A Scottish university has received almost £1 million from an international philanthropic trust to study an innovative diet for adults and children with active Crohn’s disease.

Disabled toilet badges to aid Crohn's sufferers

The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded Glasgow University $1.1m (£903,705) to evaluate the clinical outcomes of a solid food-based diet on those affected.

Researchers worked with doctors at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to develop eating treatment “CD-TREAT”.

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The diet uses everyday food to achieve the same gut microbiome changes as those seen in a liquid-only treatment known as exclusive enteral nutrition.

Dr Konstantinos Gerasimidis, who led the study, said: “We are delighted to receive more than £900,000 in funding from Helmsley. “This will enable us to further our important research into more tolerable treatments for Crohn’s disease and to understand their mechanism of action.

“We are optimistic that the clinical effect of CD-TREAT will be replicated in larger studies and will compare well with other mainstream drug therapies.

“If these initial findings are replicated, doctors, nurses and dietitians will be able to decrease or replace potentially harmful and expensive drugs and even avoid surgery, for at least some patients,” he added.

“All of these have clear implications for improving the quality of life of patients with Crohn’s disease.”

With a carefully designed meal plan including food such as chicken and rice soup, salmon and mashed potatoes, the experts were able to show that CD-TREAT was beneficial in healthy people and in animals with gut inflammation. The donation was confirmed as dozens of MPs voiced their support for a new “any disability” sign for toilets and parking spaces across the UK.

The new symbol is being promoted by East Lothian MP Martin Whitfield. It emphasises that not all disabilities are visible, and replaces the wheelchair symbol commonly used on accessible toilet signs and Blue Badge parking permits.

The sign is based on a design produced by local 10-year-old pupil Grace Warnock, who has Crohn’s disease. An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has now been created to help drive the issue forward in Parliament.

Miss Warnock, from Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans, said: “Everyone deserves to be able to use accessible facilities that need to, without fear or judgement, and the more awareness is raised the more it will change people’s attitudes.”