Accelerator company Motilent has been awarded a prestigious UKRI grant to improve the way Crohn’s Disease is managed in adults and children.

Seven innovative health projects led by many of the UK’s leading institutions were funded as part of the £16 million call designed to enable the development of disruptive technologies to detect chronic or terminal diseases earlier, in order to save lives and improve outcomes.

in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London (UCL), University of Nottingham (UoN) and IBDrelief, Motilent will be using the funding to develop an improved method of assessing medical imaging data from MRIs of Crohn’s disease patients, while incorporating a range of time and cost saving advances for a routine MRI test.

Approximately 180,000 people live with Crohn’s disease in the UK and there is no cure. Flare ups are managed with powerful but expensive immunosuppressive medications, which have a high failure rate. This project will help towards ensuring the right patients are receiving the right medications at the right time.

Alex Menys, CEO Motilent: “This project has been a long time in the works and brings together a fantastic and dedicated team with the ability to deliver this exciting programme of work. We’re going to be developing a tool for the radiologist to generate an objective score for Crohn’s Disease activity based on well validated parameters that are currently too time consuming to perform clinically.”

Professor Stuart Taylor, Consultant Radiologist, UCL: “MRI plays an very important role in diagnosing Crohn’s disease as well as treatment planning and monitoring. Interpretation is relatively subjective and time consuming. The software developed in this project will increase both the accuracy and speed of MRI interpretation which will be a significant advance.”

Dr Tom Watson, Consultant Paediatric Radiologist, GOSH: “I am routinely asked to image children as young as 4 with Crohn’s Disease. Imaging the bowel in children can be extremely challenging. An MRI scanner is an intimidating place for an adult let alone a child and on top of that, children need to be still for upwards of 30 minutes using conventional scanning protocols. These protocols often require injection of drugs to highlight areas of inflammation. This requires needles which increases the anxiety for our children with Crohn’s. For me, high quality, high speed imaging without the need for injections would be a huge leap forward. At GOSH we’ll be taking the latest advances in adult imaging and analysis and ensuring they’re relevant to our paediatric population.”

Dr. Gordon Moran, Consultant Gastroenterologist, UoN: “This project is going to help me get a quantitative score for Crohn’s Disease activity which especially in the small bowel is hugely important for assessing treatment response with powerful expensive medications. We’re also going to be able to tie our existing work in fibrosis imaging at UoN into a new protocol expanding the clinical utility of the technique.”

Seb Tucknott, CEO of IBDrelief, said: “This project is really exciting and could have some big benefits for patients with Crohn’s disease in the small bowel, helping them to receive more targeted treatments in a more timely fashion. At IBDrelief we are passionate about ensuring that patients are involved in every stage of research and development to achieve the best outcomes possible, so we are delighted to be working with Motilent and partners to make sure this project helps make a big difference to patients as well as clinical teams.”

Motilent is part of DigitalHealth.London’s 2019/20 Accelerator cohort. Alex Menys, said; “The Accelerator programme is supporting us as we roll out our current clinical product GIQuant for Crohn’s Disease, through connecting us with hospitals and providing us with strategies for widespread NHS uptake.”