Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Diapers' contents could change way of finding intestinal disease

22.02.2010
A medical test initially researched for aging adults also could be helpful for premature babies, according to scientists with Texas AgriLife Research.

The procedure, which uses fecal samples rather than the oft-dreaded colonoscopy, was developed by Dr. Robert Chapkin and his colleagues, who have been studying the noninvasive technique at the genetic level for more than a decade.

"Babies have many, many intestinal conditions that can threaten their lives, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, in premature infants," said Chapkin, a nutritional scientist. "Our test, we believe, may have utility for determining a baby's risk, and then would allow a physician to take different strategies in order to abate or prevent the possibility of this life threatening disorder."

Necrotizing enterocolitis can be fatal, Chapkin noted, and it's very difficult to determine which babies in the premature baby intensive care unit are going to develop the disease.

The researchers examined the fecal samples of 20 healthy babies in collaborative research with clinicians at the University of Illinois-Urbana.

Just as in the original research, in which the scientists detected genetic fingerprints from adult stools as a predictor of colon cancer, the study with babies found that genetic markers in their stools could also provide a picture of medical condition of an individual baby's intestines.

The study used fecal samples from 10 human babies that were exclusively breast-fed and 10 human babies that were exclusively formula-fed, Chapkin said.

"I think that all doctors would agree that the breast is best. But why? What is in the breast milk? How does it affect developmental biology, why are infections and complications in the intestine lower in a breast-fed baby than a formula-fed baby?" Chapkin said. "The only way to deal with that is to have a molecular signature of the intestinal cells from that baby and to follow it over time."

The team was able to identify genetic signatures from each baby, noninvasively, he said. In other words, each baby's diaper was the source of the samples.

Though it is early in the research, Chapkin said, the scientists found genetic pathways that appear to be induced differently by the breast milk than by formula.

"This may unlock a gold mine, allowing us to understand how that little baby's intestine is changing and developing and whether or not that formula is meeting those needs," Chapkin said. "That would allow formula companies to further enrich their formulas with essential molecules so that the two worlds - breast milk and formula - look very similar at some point in time.

"We have a long way to go to validate these markers, but we show it's feasible, it can be done," Chapkin said. "We have genetic signatures that are different in these babies' intestines."

The finding comes on the heels of the long-term study of colon cancer. The team had created a way to "noninvasively assess the status of a human being's intestine," Chapkin noted.

Adults, who at age 50 have a higher risk for developing colon cancer, have to be anesthetized while their colons are probed.

"A colonoscopy is absolutely essential as part of a surveillance process to assess your risk (for colon cancer)," Chapkin said. "Yet, many people would rather avoid the test and run the risk of developing the disease or not catching the disease early, because that test is so distasteful and unappealing to the public."

The test Chapkin's team developed and patented isolates the genetic material in a fecal sample focusing on the RNA to get a gene expression or signature.

"Humans have 20,000 or so of these genes. We look at them all and look for those that are informative, telling us what is going on. We're looking for a needle in a haystack," he said.

He said such a test, which is not yet available, might be as simple as an at-home kit. A person would put a fecal sample into a tube, seal the tube and return it to the lab, which would then use the RNA analysis developed by Chapkin's team.

In addition to colon cancer, the test might also reveal other inflammatory bowel diseases which affect millions of people in the U.S., he said.

"We could determine if these people have a signature that could point to when they are about to flare up or they are in the process of developing a clinical symptom," Chapkin explained. "And that might allow the doctor to intervene very early in the process and nip it in the bud, so to speak. It's a tool for monitoring intestinal processes."

The test could be performed periodically, much like the blood tests that people now take to see if there are changes that need further examination.

Both studies - that of the infants and the aging adults - have preliminary findings but need additional resources to pursue further. He said both need more people to enlarge the data set and prove the authenticity of the results across a larger number. That, he added, would require millions in funding.

"We think we can really revolutionize this field of noninvasive detection, in this case targeting the gastrointestinal tract in everything from a baby all the way up to an adult in determining risk for cancer or normal intestinal development," Chapkin said.

Collaborating with Chapkin on the project at Texas A&M University are Drs. Laurie Davidson, Joanne Lupton, Edward Dougherty and Ivan Ivanov, along with Dr. Sharon Donovan at the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana and Dr. Nancy Colburn from the National Institutes of Health.

Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
14.02.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>