Intestinal Failure Unit

Pioneering Intestinal Failure Unit is first in UK to test drug

Salford Royal’s pioneering Intestinal Failure Unit has become the first in the UK to test a drug to see if it can improve quality of life for patients.

The Unit treats patients from all over the UK whose intestines cannot absorb the nutrition that the body needs. This could be because of conditions such as Crohn’s disease or other bowel illnesses, or complications from surgery on the abdomen.

These patients rely on intravenous feeding for survival and some spend the rest of their lives being fed through a catheter into a vein in their chest, a process known as home parenteral nutrition.

Now experts at Salford Royal and The University of Manchester have received support from pharmaceutical firm Shire on a research project looking at whether a growth factor drug can help. Previous studies have suggested that the drug can improve gut adaptation, so that patients’ absorption of nutrients improves. In turn, that should mean they require parenteral nutrition less often.

Although parenteral nutrition can be carried out overnight, allowing patients to carry on with their lives and work, it still has an impact and those most severely affected may have to have parenteral nutrition every night.

The Unit’s Clinical Director is Professor Simon Lal (pictured above right with colleagues from the unit). He said: “We are delighted to be provided with this unrestricted support by Shire on this very important study. As yet very few people have been given access to this treatment but we will be able to offer it to eight of our patients for a 12-month trial. –We hope it will improve their quality of life and reduce the restrictions that come with having to have home parenteral nutrition.”