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.

Our Focus at the Gut Foundation is to support our Medical and Scientific professionals through research, to improve patient outcomes and change clinical practise for diseases of the Gut.

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

How are Gut Bacteria involved in causing Bowel Cancer?

Bowel Cancer arises from different types of precancerous polyps in the gut. The aim of this project is to try and identify bacterial communities that are involved in the development of Bowel Cancer. This could allow us to develop better early-stage markers of disease and, more importantly, it will help us understand how bacteria in our gut are involved in initiating Bowel Cancer, so that we can design preventative therapies that will lead to lower rates of this common and deadly cancer.

Researchers at the University of Otago have planned a study to identify bacterial communities in the gut microbiome involved in the development of Bowel Cancer.

What we aim to do

  • We plan to identify bacterial communities that are specific to certain types of polyps and, importantly, identify the functions of these bacteria that may play a role in initiating Bowel Cancer.
  • Then, we will test the mechanisms by which these bacteria interact with cells in the colon to cause cancerous changes

How we plan to do it

  • We will use polyps that have been collected by the Cancer Society Tissue Bank and extract DNA and RNA from them. Using cutting-edge DNA and RNA sequencing technology, we will identify differences in bacterial communities and functions between different types of polyps, and compare them to colon tumour tissue and healthy bowel tissue. This will allow us to identify bacterial functions and components that are only present in pre-cancerous lesions.
  • We will then test how these bacterial components may initiate cancer in colon cells in the laboratory and investigating changes at the molecular levels in the cells.

How your donation will help

  • Dr Purcell is looking for funds to pay for a Research Assistant’s salary to complete this research. Over a one-year period this will cost $56,296
  • From our Golf tournament last year, we have already raised $20,000 towards this project and your donation would give the project the boost it needs.
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In Progress

Help to eradicate Hepatitis C from New Zealand

Help to eradicate Hepatitis C from New Zealand

Hepatitis C is a virus that is spread through blood to blood transfer, including those who had a blood transfusion before 1992. It causes low grade inflammation in the liver until people present with either liver failure or liver cancer decades later. People do not know they have it until it is too late.

Over the last decade Associate Professor Catherine Stedman (Gastroenterologist and Gut Foundation Trustee) has been at the forefront of developing new treatments to cure Hepatitis C. These treatments have been funded by Pharmac over the last year or two.

What we aim to do

  • Test people in the workplace for Hepatitis C virus
  • Offer treatment to those who test positive
  • Reduce the risk of liver failure or liver cancer = save lives

How we will do it

  • Approach companies from the construction sector to pay to have their staff tested (confidentially)
  • Companies would pay for the tests (~$12 each)
  • A nurse to co-ordinate would be provided by CDHB
  • Follow up and treatment will be provided by CDHB or their GP

How your donation will help

  • It takes time to approach companies and organise the testing of their staff.
  • As this project will also be a research project looking at how effective Hepatitis C testing is in the workplace, consent and regulatory aspects have to be acrefully adhered to
  • Coordination of the enrolment of companies, testing timetabling, ethical aspects of the research, arranging appropriate follow up will require a coordinator to manage this
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Completed

Humble Hookworms – Your Friend or Foe?

Humble Hookworms – Your Friend or Foe?Research being undertaken right here in Canterbury and supported by the Gut Foundation is finding the answer to this question The thought of having hookworms in your intestines may be difficult for some people to swallow but a new collaborative study performed between researchers in Christchurch and Australia asked people with coeliac disease to do just that. Research funded by the Bowel and Liver Trust has previously showed high rates of coeliac disease in Canterbury with 1/84 Cantabrians being affected. The disease is caused by an immune reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye), which leads to permanent damage to the lining of the small intestine due to inflammation. This damage reduces the surface area of the small intestine, leading to reduced absorption of nutrients and gastrointestinal symptoms. The treatment of coeliac disease is almost always successful but requires patients to remove all gluten containing foods from the diet. This can lead to a significant reduction in quality of life for people who are affected. it seems that these parasitic worms produce molecules beneficial to gut flora in people suffering from inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. It’s called worm-induced immune modulation and,  it could be a global game-changer. Professor Richard Gearry is a leading gastroenterologist based in Christchurch and has been instrumental in the trans-Tasman collaboration, both clinically, and as a member of the Gut Foundation. He says a recent open-label proof-of-principle clinical trial in Melbourne showed infections with low numbers of Hookworms were safe and enabled people with Coeliac Disease to tolerate eating a medium sized bowl of pasta with no ill-effects. That’s an incredible finding.  The established protocol for managing Coeliac Disease is a gluten-free diet.  But it doesn’t always alleviate the symptoms, plus it is expensive, inconvenient, and inadvertent gluten exposure is common. For trial participants, the thought of a bowl of pasta without the health repercussions was enough to tolerate the deliberate infection of Hookworms. The next step is to identify the molecules that induce immunomodulation with a view to developing a medication.  Larger placebo-controlled clinical trials are required and the Bowel and Liver Trust is committed to fundraising to support this ground-breaking research Did you know?
  • 1 in 80 New Zealanders have Coeliac’s Disease.
  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease/ulcerative colitis) in the world, mainly affecting people 15-35yrs.
  • More than 3,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in NZ.
  • A 2014 research study showed the incidence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) increased by 50% over a ten-year period in Canterbury alone.
If you can support our Research projects please donate at www.thegut.org.nz or deposits can be made to our Westpac bank account 03 1703 0043327 00
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