Diagnosis and Monitoring of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Scientist reading a northern blot test

Available for License 
Open to Collaboration
TRL: 3

IP Status

US Utility Patent Pending (Not Yet Published)


Steven Dow
Lyndah Chow
Alison Manchester

At A Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have discovered a novel, non-invasive way to diagnose and monitor treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in mammalian species. This method directly reads and quantifies RNA from fecal samples without a blood or tissue sample. RNA is extracted from feces, then subjected to analysis using a testing assay platform with a custom gene expression array to detect expression of and functionality of key immune genes. The array further identifies over 50 genes whose upregulated expression is associated with IBD in dogs, compared to healthy animals. Due to RNA differences from DNA, this assay could be used to monitor biomarkers in real time, monitoring responses and changes. The diagnostic platform could be applied to diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) in humans using fecal samples as well, and other animal species, such as cats, horses, and livestock.

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Licensing Director

Steve Foster

Reference No.: 2022-028


Inflammatory bowel diseases can be hard to diagnose or differentiate. Current methods for detection include blood sample testing, elimination diets to find food sensitivities, and invasive colonoscopies. In addition, colon cancer is the third most common cause of death in the United States, and one of the largest barriers to early detection of colon cancer is the aversion of patients to regular colonoscopies (3). Currently, an at-home fecal sample can be tested for colorectal cancer; however, this test measures DNA, meaning a follow-up colonoscopy is required to confirm a diagnosis, and it cannot monitor disease progression or treatment (2). The current at-home fecal sample suffers from false positive and false negative results, which may have life-threatening consequences (3). Further, this test is not available to those with known GI diseases, as those diseases may interfere with results (1).

Technology Overview

Recent studies have shown that the novel panel of biomarkers related to IBD diagnosis and prognosis developed here was able to accurately differentiate healthy and diseased individuals from fecal samples alone. Moreover, because these biomarkers are highly conserved among mammalian species, it is reasonable to extend this diagnostic panel to humans.

Currently, continued research is being conducted to further differentiate inflammatory bowel disorders that often have overlapping or similar symptoms, diagnose certain cancers, and monitor the effectiveness of IBD treatments.

  • Non-invasive diagnosis of IBD, no biopsies or blood samples needed
  • Greater specificity than current tests, ability to differentiate similar diseases
  • No special treatment of sample is necessary
  • First prognosis and treatment monitoring test for IBD
  • Custom gene panels for specific disease indications
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) diagnosis and prognosis
  • Cancer detection and treatment monitoring
  • Food allergy and sensitivity diagnosis
  • Parasitic infection diagnosis
  • Companion animal health
  • Livestock health
  1. Anderson, Ariel. “Cologuard vs. Colonscopy: Know the Differences.” Franciscan Health, Franciscan Health Alliance, 2 Mar. 2020, https://www.franciscanhealth.org/community/blog/cologuard-vs-colonscopy-know-the-differences.
  2. Dooley, Brian. “The Truth about Cologuard Tests: Gastroenterologist San Antonio.” Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio, Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio, 26 Oct. 2021, https://www.gastroconsa.com/the-truth-about-cologuard-tests/.
  3. Gunaratnam, Naresh. “Colorectal Cancer Screening: Science Should Trump Convenience.” STAT News, STAT Magazine, 24 Sept. 2018, https://www.statnews.com/2018/09/24/colorectal-cancer-screening-science-cologuard/.

Last updated: Jan 2022

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Diagnostic, inflammatory bowel disease, GI health, personalized medicine, non-invasive