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Full NameProfessor Laurence Egan
Organisation:National University of Ireland, Galway
- infectious disease and the immune system
- cell and developmental biology/regenerative medicine
- physiology and non-communicable disease
- bioengineering/medical devices
Postgrad Medical Specialties
The research group of Professor Egan is focussed on optimising treatment approaches for individual patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. We also have an interest in understanding better some of the complications of inflammatory bowel disease, most notably the development of colon cancer. Some of our key discoveries in the past include elucidation of the key role of the transcription factor NFκB in the pathophysiology of colitis and colitis associated colon cancer, radiation enteritis and colon cancer metastasis.
Other work has focused on developing a better understanding of the mechanisms of resistance to treatment with anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies such as infliximab. Our most recent results indicate that infliximab exerts profound effects on circulating blood monocytes. Current work is investigating whether the effect of infliximab on this key pro-inflammatory cell type is a particular of treatment resistance versus response in inflammatory bowel disease patients.
At this time, there are two potentially suitable research projects within the group of Professor Egan for a clinician PhD.
The first project involves a detailed analysis of the mechanisms of primary non-response following treatment with anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies such as infliximab or adalimumab. In this project, the PhD student will work alongside the clinical team including doctors and nurses to recruit patients with inflammatory bowel disease who are beginning treatment with an anti-TNF monoclonal antibody for the first time. Prospectively, we will collect details on patients clinical characteristics and their treatment responses to the anti-TNF monoclonal antibody. At the same time blood biomarkers would be assessed for their predictive value on treatment response. This will focus primarily on the functional characteristics of blood monocytes. The outcome of this research project will be a predictive companion diagnostic biomarker for treatment responsiveness to anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies.
The second project is focused on novel approaches towards treating perianal fistulising Crohn’s disease. In collaboration with CURAM at NUI Galway, we have developed the concept of a drug-eluting seton for the treatment of perianal fistulising patients with Crohn’s disease. In this project, the PhD student will evaluate and develop optimum biomaterials and optimum doses and concentrations of drugs to be loaded into the biomaterial that will be implanted as a seton. This project will involve testing the biomechanical as well as pharmacological properties of the seton and their validation in models of perianal Crohn’s disease. The output of this project will be a novel superior specifically designed drug releasing seton that will produce better results than traditional approaches towards seton drainage of perianal fistulas.