Gastrointestinal Disorders

Medical Research Scotland is one of the largest and most comprehensive independent research charities in Scotland. Unlike most medical research charities, our funding isn't restricted to any one disease or condition, we support high-quality research that aims to improve the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all diseases and disease mechanisms.

Awards in the past 20 years

The following are some of the awards we made for research into disorders and diseases affecting the various parts, including the liver, of the gastrointestinal system.

£148,872 over 36 months to Dr Richard Mort & Professor Iain Jackson (Medical & Developmental Genetics, MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh) & Dr Kevin Painter (Mathematics, Heriot-Watt University), to take an integrated multidisciplinary approach to modelling normal neural crest cell development and the abnormalities that contribute to human birth defects.
1 in 3,000 babies born in the UK are diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 (Nf1). As well as having an increased risk of developing cancers of the nervous system, >95% of children diagnosed with Nf1 also have variable amounts of skin and hair hyper- or hypopigmentation. Pigment cells are a subtype of neural crest stem cells (NCSCs), the migration of which is a fundamental antenatal development process. Using a unique integration of live imaging and mathematical modelling, this project aims to explain neural crest cell behaviour in these and related disorders.

£117,317 over 24 months Mr Stephen J. McNally, Professor Stephen J. Wigmore & Dr Luke Devey Centre (Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh) to investigate the effect of heme-oxygenase-1 on the role of monocyte in hepatic ischaema-reperfusion injury and transplantation.
Liver transplantation and liver cancer removal have high complication rates, mainly because of the damage that occurs to the liver when its blood supply is restored after surgery. Using models of both procedures, this project aims first to identify which cells are responsible for the damage and then to investigate the ability of a specific protein to protect the liver. The hope is that the protein proves suitable for pre-operative treatment and also whether, in transplants, it should be the donor organ or the recipient which should be treated.

£85,219 over 19 months to Dr Andrew J. Roe (Infection & Immunity) & Dr Richard Burchmore (Functional Genomics Facility), University of Glasgow, for the identification of proteins targeted by salicylic aldehyde inhibitors in Escherichia coli O157.
Scotland has the highest rate in Europe of infection with the bacterium E. coli O157, which causes serious disease, particularly in the very young and the elderly. This project aims to identify the proteins involved in the processes used by the bacterium to enable it to attach itself to the gut wall and also to understand better how they work. The results should provide pointers to the development of compounds which could be used to block the attachment of E. coli O157 to the wall of the gut and thereby reduce disease.

£77,630 over two years to Drs Pamela Johnston, Chris Woodall & Penelope Redding (School of Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University) for an investigation of control measures to limit norovirus infections in a hospital environment.
This work aims to investigate ways of inactivating the highly infectious norovirus which causes the gastrointestinal disease known as 'winter vomiting' and is prevalent in hospitals and care homes for the elderly.

£75,394 over 18 months to Dr Amanda MacCallum (Institute of Comparative Medicine, Veterinary Pathology, Glasgow University), for an investigation of the early cell-signalling events in Campylobacter jejuni-infected enterocytes.
Campylobacter jejuni is the commonest cause of bacterial food poisoning in the western world and this work aims to clarify exactly how the bacterium enters cells in the gut and multiplies, resulting in disease.

The Mrs Jean V. Baxter Medical Research Fellowship 2001-03 was awarded to Mr Ian Stewart Currie (Clinical & Surgical Sciences, Edinburgh University) for an investigation of the role of mitochondria in ischaemic preconditioning and apoptosis in liver surgery.

£54,602 over two years to Dr Neil C. Henderson & Kenneth J. Simpson (Medicine, Edinburgh University) to study the mechanisms of intracellular signal transduction mediating the hepatoprotective effects of CXC chemokines.
By studying specific cell signalling molecules, called MAPKs, the researchers intend to modify the damage inflicted on liver cells by paracetamol toxicity, reducing the need for liver transplantation.

£69,970 over two years to Dr Matthew C. Wright (Molecular & Cell Biology), Professor Gabrielle Hawksworth (Medicine & Therapeutics) and Dr Graeme Murray (Pathology, Aberdeen University) to investigate the function of arachidonic acid-metabolising cytochrome P450 2J3 in hepatic stellate cells and its role in modulating liver fibrosis.
Before liver cirrhosis occurs a process called fibrosis takes place, where fibrous tissue accumulates in liver cells, disturbing the structure and function. This research will attempt to modify fibrosis using enzymes, aiming to prevent progression to cirrhosis.

£69,321 over two years to Dr Janice Spencer, Dr Alun Williams & Professor Mark Roberts (Veterinary Pathology, Glasgow University) for a study of host-pathogen interactions during colonisation of preferred microenvironments by verocytotoxogenic Escherichia coli O157:H7 in young and adult cattle.

£69,217 over two years to Drs Robin J. Plevin (Physiology & Pharmacology) & Dino Rotondo (Immunology, Strathclyde University) to study the regulation of cell-selective cytotoxicity by verotoxigenic infective E. coli O157 and, in particular, H7 cellular signalling cascades as novel sites for drug intervention.
E. coli O157 causes severe intestinal problems and is a highly infectious bacterium for which antibiotic treatment is largely ineffective as the effects are mediated by verotoxins. However, as not all body cells are equally affected by the toxins, this research will study the effects in different cell types.

£69,082 to Dr Kenneth Simpson (Scottish Liver Transplant Unit, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) and Dr David Harrison (Pathology, Edinburgh University) for a two-year study of chemokines in paracetamol toxicity with the long-term goal of developing gene therapy for hepatic regeneration.

£60,005 over two years to Drs Peter C. Hayes & John N. Plevris (Medicine, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) and Drs Ian H. Sadler & John A. Parkinson (Chemistry, Edinburgh University) for the identification of anovel compound present in patients with chronic hepatic encephalopathy and an investigation of its role in the pathogenesis of the disease.

£24,455 to Mr Ajith Siriwardena, Kenneth C.H. Fearon & James A. Ross (Surgery, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) for a one-year, randomised controlled trial of early enteral nutrition in severe acute pancreatitis.

£10,124 to Dr Brian M. Frier & Dr Petros Perros (Diabetes), Dr C. Counsell (Medical Neurology, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) & Professor T. Wallace Macfarlane (Glasgow Dental Hospital & School) for a year-long study of altered taste sensation in Type II diabetes.

£60,092 over two years to Dr W. Nicol Keith (CRC Medical Oncology), Dr James J. Going (Pathology) and Mr Robert C. Stuart (Surgery, Glasgow University) to investigate the role of telomerase expression and replicative ageing in Barrett's oesophagus.

£65,960 to Drs Sandrine Prost, Christopher O.C. Bellamy & David J. Harrison (Pathology, Edinburgh University) for a study aimed at ascertaining whether impaired DNA repair underlies hepatocarcinogenesis in chronic liver disease.

£86,085 over three years to Professor Andrew H. Wyllie (Pathology, Edinburgh University) for an analysis by new methods of genomic instability in colorectal carcinoma.

£55,280 to Dr John M.S. Bartlett, Dr D. Fenton-Lee & Professor Tim G. Cooke (Surgery, Glasgow Royal Infirmary), Dr Valerie Brunton (CRC Department for Medical Oncology) & Dr Brad Ozanne (Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow) for a two-year study of the use of novel inhibitors of EGF receptor tyrosine kinase activity as potential therapeutic agents in the control of gastric cancer.