ENIGMA Study - The Gut Microbiota

Understanding the ecosystem within us may lead to disease cures

Within the gut resides a vast ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and viruses, otherwise known as the gut microbiota. This ecosystem comprises 90 percent of the cells in our body. Our normal human cells therefore constitute only a minority of the cells in our body.

We are working with scientists to unravel the exact nature of these organisms in our gut, and the role they play in causing or curing disease. New molecular techniques are identifying previously unknown bacterial species. New insights are also emerging about the effect of diet on the gut bacteria and how this might affect gut inflammation.

The presence and function of the microbiota are essential to our wellbeing - these organisms perform a range of functions critical to development, growth, metabolic function, and protection from disease.  However, the gut microbiota is now also thought to play some role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, arthritis, and allergic diseases.

Identifying particular bacteria that play a role in disease can have an enormous impact. For example, identification of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori by Australian Nobel prize-winning researchers led to the virtual eradication of stomach and bowel ulcer disease. That single observation was one of the key medical discoveries of the twentieth century.

 

Of a similar magnitude, discovery of the rotavirus as the commonest cause of childhood diarrhoea, by scientists at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, together with the subsequent development of a vaccine, has had a huge impact on childhood illness and death worldwide. There are more discoveries to be made in this area.

 

 

Manipulating the gut microbiota may also be valuable. Our recent study demonstrating the success of faecal transplant for patients with ulcerative colitis demonstrates how powerful this approach can be.

AGIRF is supporting clinical projects that will harness the power of gut bacteria manipulation. Our scientific projects will identify which gut bacteria are the most important in causing and curing disease.

The ENIGMA II Study (Eastern Inflammatory Bowel Disease Gut Microbiota) - is a collaboration with our colleagues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. This study combines basic science, dietetics and clinical science to form a unique and powerful research combination to address the role of the gut microbiota and diet in surging Crohn's disease prevalence.  The ENIGMA II Study will make fundamental discoveries about the key microbial organisms and related dietary factors that cause and contribute to the development of IBD in the West, and in the East (Hong Kong and China) where IBD incidence is rapidly increasing.  

The ENIGMA II Studies would not be possible without the generous support of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Foundation.

The ecosystem within our gut is central to our well-being, but also to the development of many gut and non-gut disorders. Its scientific exploration is leading to new therapies and cures.

Melbourne Clinical Site Staff

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KAMM
PROFESSOR OF

GASTROENTEROLOGY
University of Melbourne,

St Vincent’s Hospital
and Imperial College London

DR. AMY HAMILTON

CLINICAL SCIENTIST

University of Melbourne,

St Vincent’s Hospital
 

MS. ANNALISE STANLEY RESEARCH NURSE SPECIALIST

University of Melbourne,

St Vincent’s Hospital
 

DR. AMY WILSON-O'BRIEN

CLINICAL SCIENTIST

University of Melbourne,

St Vincent’s Hospital
 

DR. GINA TRAKMAN

RESEARCH DIETITIAN

University of Melbourne,

St Vincent’s Hospital
 

Queensland Scientific Staff

PROFESSOR MARK MORRISON

PROFESSOR OF MICROBIOLOGY

The Diamantina Institute,

The University of Queensland
 

DR. ERWIN BERENDSEN

RESEARCH FELLOW

The Diamantina Institute,

The University of Queensland
 

DR. EMILY HOEDT

RESEARCH FELLOW

The Diamantina Institute,

The University of Queensland
 

Hong Kong Clinical and Scientific Staff

PROFESSOR SIEW NG 

PROFESSOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

JESSICA CHING

STUDY COORDINATOR

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

WINNIE LIN 

RESEARCH DIETITIAN 

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

PROFESSOR JUN YU

PROFESSOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

LEO OR

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

DR. WENDY ZANG

RESEARCH FELLOW

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

PROFESSOR JOSEPH SUNG

PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

WHITNEY TANG

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

ZHANG FEN

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Shenzhen Research Institute

 

China Clinical Investigators

PROFESSOR ZHIHUA RAN

PROFESSOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY

Ren Ji Hospital and Jiao Tong University, Shanghai

 

PROFESSOR MINHU CHEN

PROFESSOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY

Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou

 

PROFESSOR KAICHUN WU

PROFESSOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY

Fourth Military Medical University, Xian

 

PROFESSOR JIAN QIU SHENG

PROFESSOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY

The General Hospital of People's Liberation Army, Bejing

 

© 2017 by AGIRF 

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