What is the POCER study?
Eighty per cent of patients with Crohn’s disease need an operation at some time in their life. Even if all diseased intestine is removed, the disease often recurs, resulting in the need for further surgery.
The POCER study aims to determine whether performing an early colonoscopy after surgery, together with early drug treatment, will reduce recurrent disease and the need for further surgery.
The POCER study also aims to investigate in the laboratory whether particular bowel bacteria or the immune system cause recurrent disease.
Who is involved?
The study is led from St Vincent’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne by Professor Michael Kamm and Dr Peter De Cruz in collaboration with the Murdoch Institute, the CSIRO and the software company EpiSoft, with funding administered by the Australasian Gastro Intestinal Research Foundation (AGIRF), a government-authorised and audited registered medical research charity.
Some174 participants and 17 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand took part in the study.
Results to date
The study took out top honours at the world’s premier inflammatory bowel disease congress, held in Copenhagen in February 2014, was named best investigator- initiated study in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO), beating 254 other studies from around the world.
It is set to revolutionise post-operative care of patients with Crohn’s disease throughout the world, with an approach that potentially markedly decreases disease recurrence.
Dr Peter De Cruz said: “The POCER Study has received national and international recognition, reinforcing that this study is likely to be pivotal in defining the optimal care of patients after surgery for Crohn’s disease by developing a tailored approach. Professor Kamm and myself hope that the strategy being tested in this study will lead to better disease control and changes in clinical practice. We are also hopeful that important new insights into the cause of Crohn’s disease will emerge”.
A guide for doctors, using findings from the research, will outline a tailored approach to management of post-operative Crohn’s patients.
The POCER study also aims to investigate in the laboratory whether or not particular bowel bacteria cause recurrent disease. The laboratory studies are undertaken in collaboration with the CSIRO and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.