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Motilent & Partners Receive Prestigious UKRI Funding

  • Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine affecting people of all ages.
  • There is an urgent need for technology to guide the use of powerful and expensive anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Motilent has been awarded  a prestigious UKRI grant to tackle this challenge.

About the project

Motilent has been awarded a UKRI grant to improve the way Crohn’s Disease is managed in adults and children.

A total of seven projects led by many of the UK’s leading institutions were funded as part of the £16 million call designed to enable the development of disruptive technologies to improve outcomes in chronic and challenging disease areas.  

Working with Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London (UCL), University of Nottingham (UoN) and IBDrelief, Motilent will develop an improved method of assessing medical imaging data from MRIs of Crohn’s disease patients, while incorporating a range of time and cost saving advances for a routine MRI test.

Approximately 180,000 people live with Crohn’s disease in the UK and there is no cure. Flare ups are managed with powerful but expensive immunosuppressive medications, which have a high failure rate. This project will help ensure the right patients are receiving the right medications at the right time for them.

This image shows three types of MRI scan of the same patient with severe Crohn’s Disease. The blue box represents the area of disease (thickened bowel on the left, low motility in the middle and bright inflamed bowel on the right). The blue circle shows normal bowel. These images are currently interpreted subjectively by Radiologists. The goal of the project is to quantitatively assess the data produced by MRI so smaller changes can be detected to fine tune patient treatment.


What the project partners say

Alex Menys, CEO Motilent: “This project has been a long time in the works and brings together a fantastic and dedicated team with the ability to deliver this exciting programme of work. We’re going to be developing a tool for the radiologist to generate an objective score for Crohn’s Disease activity based on well validated parameters that are currently too time consuming to perform clinically.”

Professor Stuart Taylor, Consultant Radiologist, UCL:MRI plays an very important role in diagnosing Crohn’s disease as well as treatment planning and monitoring. Interpretation is relatively subjective and time consuming. The software developed in this project will increase both the accuracy and speed of MRI interpretation which will be a significant advance.”

Dr Tom Watson, Consultant Paediatric Radiologist, GOSH: “I am routinely asked to image children as young as 4 with Crohn’s Disease. Imaging the bowel in children can be extremely challenging. An MRI scanner is an intimidating place for an adult let alone a child and on top of that, children need to be still for upwards of 30 minutes using conventional scanning protocols. These protocols often require injection of drugs to highlight areas of inflammation. This requires needles which increases the anxiety for our children with Crohn’s. For me, high quality, high speed imaging without the need for injections would be a huge leap forward. At GOSH we’ll be taking the latest advances in adult imaging and analysis and ensuring they’re relevant to our paediatric population.”

Dr. Gordon Moran, Consultant Gastroenterologist, UoN:This project is going to help me get a quantitative score for Crohn’s Disease activity which especially in the small bowel is hugely important for assessing treatment response with powerful expensive medications. We’re also going to be able to tie our existing work in fibrosis imaging at UoN into a new protocol expanding the clinical utility of the technique.”

Seb Tucknott, CEO of IBDrelief, said: “This project is really exciting and could have some big benefits for patients with Crohn’s disease in the small bowel, helping them to receive more targeted treatments in a more timely fashion. At IBDrelief we are passionate about ensuring that patients are involved in every stage of research and development to achieve the best outcomes possible, so we are delighted to be working with Motilent and partners to make sure this project helps make a big difference to patients as well as clinical teams.”

What happens next?

This project is now well underway and we’ll up providing regular updates. Follow us on Linkedin or Twitter or email us at [email protected]

Our partners can be found at:

UCL Centre for Medical Imaging

University of Nottingham BRC


Great Ormond Street Hospital

About Motilent

Motilent is a medical imaging technology company that aims to make some of the latest and most exciting image analysis technologies available to the researchers who can use them to make the important scientific advances required to advance our understanding of gastrointestinal disease.

For further information please contact