Mayo Clinic Receives Funding for Gut Function Biomarker Research
News Dec 28, 2012
Mayo Clinic have announced that it will receive funding through the Biomarkers of Gut Function and Health program within the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. This initiative was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationto overcome persistent bottlenecks preventing the creation of new and better health solutions for the developing world. William Faubion, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, will continue to pursue a research project titled "Gut Permeability in Environmental Enteropathy."
"Our team at Mayo Clinic is excited about the opportunity to impact this devastating global health problem, and given this unique partnership between our pediatric population and that of the developing world, this project will truly be about kids helping kids," says Dr. Faubion.
Dr. Faubion's project is one of seven grants recently announced.
"Safeguarding the health of young children is one of the world's most urgent priorities and a core focus of our work," says Chris Wilson, Director of Discovery & Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope the suite of grants announced today will give us a deeper understanding of the reasons underlying stunted growth in children in the developing world and how this can be predicted to guide new approaches to improve the health and development of these children."
Environmental enteropathy is a disease of the small intestines of infants. It is a condition that affects approximately 146 million infants in developing countries. The condition disturbs digestion and absorption of nutrients, which leaves the infants malnourished. This malnourishment inhibits growth and development, which affects the children throughout their lifetimes. "These kids never reach their full potential," explains Dr. Faubion. "The trouble for physicians is how to identify the infants with enteropathy." This study hopes to define a simple test that can be used to identify afflicted infants.
Researchers say they have discovered a gene mutation that slows the metabolism of sugar in the gut, giving people who have the mutation a lower risk of diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and even death. The researchers say their finding could provide the basis for drug therapies that could mimic the workings of this gene mutation.