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University of Otago researchers have found new ways to detect changes occurring on the surface of the bowel, which may lead to better treatment for hundreds of children with Crohn's disease and colitis.
Preliminary data shows one of the new tests, a stool test, can successfully predict whether there will be a flare-up of the diseases over the next three months.
Paediatric gastroenterologist Prof Andrew Day, of the university's Christchurch campus, said if the data was confirmed, it would mean treatments could be adjusted or changed prior to the flare-up and symptoms might be reduced or better managed.
Prof Day said the research involved 126 children from around the South Island, including 15 from Dunedin, and was showing signs of providing an easy, reliable and non-invasive indicator test.
More research and data was needed to substantiate the findings, he said.
The study is to be expanded to include children from the North Island.
''It's going to be a national group, looking at getting a good understanding about everything that ticks with kids in New Zealand with Crohn's and colitis.''
More definitive results might be available by the end of next year, and he believed a test would be widely available within the next five to 10 years.
Prof Day said the study was predominantly funded by child health research charity Cure Kids, but more funding was needed to continue it. It was hoped that funding would come from today's annual Red Nose Day for Cure Kids fundraiser.
Once again, New Zealand schools and businesses are getting behind the event.
More than 550 schools have baked, created, built and competed in sporting challenges to raise money for Red Nose Day, and more than 100 retailers nationwide are also supporting the cause by stocking Red Nose Day merchandise.
There is an app that lets you put a digital red nose on photos of yourself, by texting NOSE to 933 and donating $3 to Cure Kids.