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Helmsley Grants $5.3 Million to Develop Next Generation Biomarker Tools for Crohn’s Disease Patients with Strictures

Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Alimentiv will collaborate to address a critical unmet need for people with Crohn’s disease

New York, NY – April 11, 2022 – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded $5.3 million to Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Alimentiv, Inc. to expand its support of the Stenosis Therapy and Anti-Fibrotic Research (STAR) consortium for the development of next generation biomarker tools for intestinal fibrosis in patients with Crohn’s disease.

People with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract, frequently develop stricturing or narrowing of the intestinal tract due to excessive scar tissue formation, known as fibrosis. Although advances have been made in the treatment of gut inflammation, the development of treatments for Crohn’s disease-associated fibrosis has been hindered due to a lack of appropriate biomarkers to assess effectiveness. Those biomarkers would enable clinical testing of anti-fibrotic drugs.

The STAR consortium, for which Cleveland Clinic will be the coordinating center, will be co-led by Florian Rieder, M.D., Cleveland Clinic, Joel Fletcher, M.D., Mayo Clinic, and Brian Feagan M.D., Alimentiv. The consortium will draw upon the expertise of each center to develop and validate molecular and imaging biomarkers that are indicative of the degree of fibrosis in the intestines of patients with stricturing Crohn’s disease. Importantly, the consortium will disseminate the research data and tools developed under this initiative to the greater Crohn’s disease clinical and research communities for the benefit of all patients.

“Addressing the unmet needs of patients is the core of Helmsley’s Crohn’s Disease Program’s mission,” said Laurie Churchill, Program Officer at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Helmsley is proud to expand our partnership with the STAR consortium to support this important work to further enable the development of anti-fibrotic agents that can treat, and potentially prevent strictures in Crohn’s disease patients.”

“We are grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their significant support of this important work,” said Dr. Rieder, Vice Department Chair of the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and Director of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Research at Cleveland Clinic.

“Setting standards and identifying biomarkers so that we can ultimately develop new treatments is a critical step toward improving the lives of people with stricturing Crohn’s disease,” said Dr. Fletcher, Professor of Radiology at Mayo Clinic.

“Alimentiv is committed to improving clinical trial outcomes and accelerating drug development timelines and is proud to partner in this interdisciplinary work,” said Dr. Feagan, Senior Scientific Director at Alimentiv.

Through the development of novel biomarkers, the STAR consortium will help build a pathway to develop new, effective therapeutics for Crohn’s disease that will ultimately improve the well-being of patients.


Alison Carley, Communications Officer


About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the United States and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Crohn’s Disease Program supports impactful ideas and mobilizes a global community committed to improving the lives of Crohn’s disease patients while pursuing a cure. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org