(Note: posts have been sparse lately due to new baby:)
In Canada, the GEM project has started. Unlike the "narrow" drug studies which dominate IBD research, the GEM study "aims to define how human genetics, environmental and microbial changes interact and contribute to the development of Crohn's disease."
To study all three factors (genetics, environment, and microbes--intestinal bacteria), 5,000 healthy siblings of Crohn's patients are being recruited. These siblings, who have a higher risk of Crohn's, will be followed for several years. The genetic, environmental, and microbial (GEM) status of these siblings will be assessed as follows:
(1) Genetic analysis - blood samples
(2) Environment - urine samples and questionnaires
(3) Microbial exposure - stool samples
It will be years before the study yields results. However, this type of combined research will provide more insight into Crohn's than attempting to study genetics, environment, or intestinal flora in isolation.
More information may be found on the study's website: http://www.gemproject.ca.