Friday, November 14, 2014

Memorial Sloan Kettering Creates a Way to Treat Gastrointestinal Infections

Memorial Sloan Kettering research, aided by a donation from the Marie and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, may help prevent C.diff infections
New research from Memorial Sloan Kettering
may help prevent C.diff infections.
Image: Memorial Sloan Kettering
Anyone who has ever suffered from a gastrointestinal infection, commonly referred to as a stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, knows that they are incredibly uncomfortable and in some instances, deadly. C.diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a bacterial pathogen that releases toxins into the body that damages the lining of the large intestine. This leads to severe abdominal pain that can even lead to a much more serious condition that can take weeks or months to resolve. In rare cases, the ailment can even be fatal.

According to the Mayo Clinic, for many years there has been no effective treatment for gastrointestinal inflections. However, new research from Memorial Sloan Kettering is creating a different strategy that looks to use a bacterial species that is found in healthy gastrointestinal tracts to prevent C.diff infections.

Eric Pamer, the Head of the Division of General Medicine and Chief of MSK’s Infectious Diseases Service, stated, “It’s been well appreciated that the loss of normal bacteria in the intestines can lead to infection with C. diff. Now that we know which bacterial species has a protective effect, we can begin to look for ways to develop a clinical treatment,” of advancements being made.

Researchers have known for years that treatment with antibiotics can damage bacterial strains that are beneficial in the intestines and thus allow C.diff to continue growing and damage the body. Recent studies have shown that fecal transplants—where uninfected feces are transplanted to the colon of someone with C.diff.—can lead to a suppression of C.diff infections.

The research conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering was aided by a generous gift of $100 million from the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, which sought to bring financial aid to cancer biology, bioinformatics, pathology and systems biology. The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology (CMO) undertook an endeavor to help with the research of cancer through genomic analysis of patient-derived tumors. It’s due to such contributions that Memorial Sloan Kettering aims to reach the ambitious goal of expediting and streamlining cancer genomics research to guide cancer treatments, and is what makes it a leader in other health research fields.

For further reading about the new gastrointestinal treatment research, MSK’s Eric Pamer is also a senior author of a study on the subject of C.diff, which can be found published in Nature: International weekly journal of science.