Projects

The high quality of medical care we enjoy today is built upon years of effort by physicians, PhDs, and other medical professionals investigating the causes of and potential treatments for disease. Many once life-threatening diseases and conditions have been beaten through the acquisition of knowledge provided by health research.

When you support medical research, you are helping medical researchers build the future of medicine. With the partnership of individual and corporate donors, we are able to make significant headway in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient care.

New

A new approach to Medical Diagnosis – the SIFT-MS

A new approach to Medical Diagnosis – the SIFT-MS

Imagine breathing into a machine to diagnose a medical condition or disease. This could be the future of medicine according to Professor Richard Gearry.

The Bowel and Liver Trust is embarking on a new fundraising project to purchase a SIFT-MS machine. The project is a lofty goal as the machine plus research funding will mean we need to raise half a million dollars to ensure enough research can be done to make it worthwhile.

The SYFT-MS machine also known as the voice 250 can measure volatile organic compounds in breath or other gas samples.

Designed and Manufactured in Christchurch the primary use of this machine has been for detecting minute amounts of toxic gases in confined work spaces or other environments but medical researchers in Christchurch and elsewhere in the world have identified clinical uses for this technology.

A study titled - Breath Analysis Using SIFT-MS to Assess Metabolic Status in Patients After Gastro-oesophageal Cancer Surgery- a Pilot Study

Undertaken by Juzheng Huang# , Sacheen Kumar# , Piers R. Boshier, Stephanie Wakefield, Julia R. Cushnir and George B. Hanna*

Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, 10th Floor QEQM Wing, St Mary’s Hospital, London, UK “demonstrates SIFT-MS to be a promising technique applicable in a clinical setting for the analysis of exhaled breath metabolites in patients with gastro-oesophageal cancer.”

Another study undertaken in Ohio titled - The Breathprints in Patients with Liver Disease Identify Novel Breath Biomarkers in Alcoholic Hepatitis and undertaken by Ibrahim A. Hanouneh, Nizar N. Zein, Frank Cikach, Luma Dababneh, David Grove, Naim Alkhouri, Rocio Lopez, Raed A. Dweik reached the following conclusion – “Based on levels of volatile compounds in breath samples, we can identify patients with AH vs patients with acute decompensation or individuals without liver disease. Levels of exhaled TMA moderately correlate with the severity of AH. These findings might be used in diagnosis of AH or in determining patient prognosis.”

Many of the Diagnostic tests for determining disease of the Gut are invasive and according to Professor Richard Geary Clinical Gastroenteroligist and Researcher simply breathing into a machine to diagnose a medical condition could be the way of the future.

Raising funds for such an important piece of research equipment that has the potential that SYFT-MS technology has is an exciting goal to be part of. Local Researchers plan to use the equipment to perform ground- breaking research in the following areas: Bowel Cancer, IBD (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), Irratable Bowel syndrom, Liver Disease,.

Contact us if you wish to find out more about this project and support this cause.

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In Progress

Growing mini-guts to study bowel disease

Growing mini-guts to study bowel diseaseAim To develop a three dimensional cell structure that closely resembles the human gut as a means to model bowel disease. Background Our research is centred on understanding how bacteria-host interactions in the gut increase the risk of disease. We have shown that enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis colonization of the human bowel occurs more often in patients with colorectal cancer than in healthy controls. Likewise, there is evidence that humans infected with Campylobacter jejuni may be at increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease. However, we do not yet fully understand the mechanisms that link carriage of these bacteria to increased risk of disease. Single crypts or stem cells derived from the small intestine or colon can be expanded ex vivo over long periods to generate epithelial structures that closely resemble the self-renewing crypt-villus architecture of the gut. These organoids, which contain all differentiated types of cells and grow as three-dimensional structures, are essentially “mini-guts”. Accordingly, they potentially provide a model system of the respective niches that these (and other pathogens) colonize throughout the gastrointestinal tract to help us better understand specific host-pathogen interactions. Research Design We have ethical approval to grow mini-guts from mouse and human biopsies. The biopsies will be digested with EDTA and then fractionated to give a crypt-rich preparation that will be cultured on Matrigel in defined medium. Once the organoids become established, they will be maintained in a manner similar to that used for the ongoing culture of cell lines. The advantage of organoids over cell cultures is that the former will provide a near physiological ex vivo model of the gut that can be monitored in real time. We propose to expose the organoids to bacteria and/or potential therapeutics to determine cell-specific host-pathogen responses. Specifically, we will use cell proliferation, markers of apoptosis and evidence of intestinal phosphatase activity to assess if an infection and/or therapeutic has a measurable effect of cell differentiation and therefore the rate of organoid growth. We will also extract RNA from the cells for quantitative analysis of those genes we are interested in. In addition, we will measure intestinal alkaline phosphatase activity in situ in organoid-derived cell homogenates as a measure of innate immunity. Results/Outcomes
  • This model will be developed by Gabrielle Budd, mentored by Jacqui Keenan and Andrew Day. Gabby is a medical student who has been working over the summer on a studentship sponsored by the Bowel and Liver Trust. This project is a continuation of that research.
  • It is envisaged that this research will provide us with a biologically relevant model to better understand the role of gut bacteria in the aetiology of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Accordingly, we propose to present our preliminary findings at local and national scientific meetings
  • The pilot data we generate from this study will be used to support subsequent proposals to other funding agencies.
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Completed

Endoscopic Ultra sound for the south Island

Endoscopic Ultra sound for the south IslandImagine swallowing a pill that can take photographs of your intestine and send them wirelessly to a data recorder so that they can be downloaded, like a movie, for your doctor to review at a computer workstation. While this may sound like the work of a science fiction novelist, it became a reality in 2002 when The Bowel and Liver Trust raised money for the first capsule endoscopy system available in a public hospital in New Zealand. This work was driven by then Chair of the Bowel and Liver Trust, Mr Martin Howman, who led a team of Trustees to raise the money to provide this important service to Cantabrians. In the 1970s flexible gastroscopes and colonoscopes had been introduced to examine the stomach and colon, respectively. However, the small intestine, which is between the stomach and colon, has always been difficult to visualise and diagnose diseases in. The advent of Pillcam has changed the way that doctors view the small intestine - the final frontier of gastroenterology. Now patients can undergo a non-invasive test without being admitted to hospital. The Pillcam was the brainchild of an unlikely combination – an Israeli Astrophysicist and an American Gastroenterologist. Each capsule (the size of a large pill) contains a small camera, a light, a battery and a transmitter. The light flashes twice per second with a photo taken each time. The images are sent wirelessly to a data recorder, which is worn as a belt around the waist. As Dale Cornelius, Capsule Nurse, explains, “the patient simply swallows a Pillcam capsule in the morning after an overnight fast. The data recorder is fitted to the patient who can then go about their usual activities for the day before returning to the clinic where the data recorder is removed and the images are downloaded to a computer. Software in the computer converts the images into a video, which can be analysed by a gastroenterologist. Each study takes between 30 and 60 minutes to analyse and report.” Dale Cornelius is currently undergoing training to assist in interpretation of the studies. Improvements in technology have led to longer battery life with 10 hours now allowing for the entire small intestine to be easily examined. The angle of the lens has also increased allowing more of the intestine to be examined with each picture. It is hoped that improvements in software may improve the identification of abnormalities. Dr Bruce Chapman, Gastroenterologist and Trustee says that a frequently asked question by patients is, “are the capsules reused?” The answer, to the relief of the patient, is “no” with a new capsule being used for every patient. The Pillcam system can be used for all age groups including children and the elderly. Dale Cornelius recently performed a study in an 88-year patient who completed the study with ease. The Pillcam is very helpful for identifying sources of bleeding in the small intestine, defining extent of disease in small bowel Crohn’s disease. More rarely it is used to identify polyps and small intestinal tumours. In a review of local cases 59% of those referred with anaemia had a positive finding and in 77% of patients referred with diarrhoea there was a positive finding. 64397-TBLTC-A4-Newsletter-8pp_HR(1)While some patients have requested a Pillcam instead of a colonoscopy, unfortunately this is currently not an option. A Pillcam for the colon is under development and prototypes have been tested but there are limitations with the bowel preparation in the colon. The Pillcam platform is available in Christchurch in both public and private health sectors and serves the upper half of the South Island. About 100 capsule endoscopy studies are performed at Christchurch Hospital each year, with more than a thousand studies since the system was established in Canterbury in 2002. Another great success for the Bowel and Liver Trust, improving the gastrointestinal health of New Zealanders.Read More...

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