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Changing the Game for Diagnosing and Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

These technologies have the potential to make a real difference in the lives of IBD patients.

Last month I "broke the silence" about my personal journey with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in advance of World IBD Day (admittedly, I jumped the gun a bit. I blame it on pandemic brain). Now that World IBD Day is offically apon us (May 19), MD+DI is highlighting emerging technologies that truly have game-changing potential for IBD patients. But first, here are some things you might not know about IBD.

The Mayo Clinic defines inflammatory bowel disease as an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Types of IBD include ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Ulerative colitis typically involves inflammation and ulcers along the superficial lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Crohn's disease is characterized by inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, which can involve the deeper layers of the digestive tract. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease symptoms includes diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss.

Because inflammatory bowel disease is largely considered an invisible illness, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America launched a "Spill Your Guts" campaign this year, challenging the IBD community to help shine a light on these invisible diseases and start to break down the stigma associated with IBD symptoms, which are often topics people feel uncomfortable discussing.

How can medtech help patients with inflammatory bowel disease?

The Spill Your Guts campaign takes aim at a longstanding challenge within the IBD community: getting an accurate diagnosis quickly. For too many patients (myself included), it can take years and multiple hospital visits before receiving an accurate diagnosis from a specialist. There are no simple blood tests to diagnose IBD, so a correct diagnosis can require invasive testing, and eliminating the possibility of other illnesses first.

The good news is that there are innovative solutions emerging (as highlighted by this slideshow), that are tackling some of the biggest challenges associated with diagnosing and treating IBD. Still, there is a lot of room for new innovation in this space, as the unmet needs of this patient population is quite significant. For medtech entreprenuer types and/or biomedical engineers, IBD may just present that untapped opportunity you've been looking for. The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America also has launched the IBD Ventures program and dedicated funding mechanism to support product-oriented research and development. Companies and academic investigators can apply. Funding up to $500,000 per project per year will be considered. In addition, funded programs will be offered accelerator resources and advising.

It wasn't easy for me to "spill my guts" to the entire MD+DI audience and beyond, but I did so in hopes that just maybe one of our briliant readers will be inspired to develop the next ground-breaking product to address unmet IBD needs. And because I'm completely shameless in this mission, I am re-sharing the below photo of my late grandmother and pushing my wheelchair at a family wedding in 2003, just three days after a long hospital stay.

Image courtesy of Amanda PedersenIBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

Did we miss one?

If you know of an emerging IBD technology that is not included in this slideshow, let us know by emailing [email protected], and we will consider adding it to this or future articles.

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