Researcher Earns $1.9M Grant to Study Short Bowel Syndrome

To learn more about various conditions, how to treat them, and how to improve patient outcomes, medical research plays a crucial role. According to a news release from Saint Louis University (SLU), Dr. Ajay Jain, MD, a researcher from the SLU School of Medicine, recently received a $1,893,750 grant to help study short bowel syndrome (SBS). 

The grant, provided by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, is meant to enhance researchers’ understanding of both short bowel syndrome and its underlying mechanisms. In doing so, Dr. Jain could potentially develop a new therapeutic option for patients. 

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a complex disorder which prevents people from receiving enough nutrients and water because the small intestine isn’t functioning properly. Additionally, patients with short bowel syndrome often have a partially or fully missing small intestine. This can be caused by other illnesses such as cancer or Crohn’s disease, a birth defect, injury, or surgery. Regardless, those affected are unable to absorb enough protein, water, fats, vitamins, and other nutrients from the food they eat. Short bowel syndrome may be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Kidney stones and gallstones
  • Easy bruising
  • Unintended weight loss 
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive gassiness 
  • Bone pain
  • Bloating and cramping
  • Fatty liver
  • Food intolerances
  • Fatigue

The Research

Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) is one way of ensuring that patients with short bowel syndrome receive nutrients; it is given through intravenous administration. MedLine Plus explains further:

Total parenteral nutrition is a method of feeding that bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Fluids are given into a vein to provide most of the nutrients the body needs.

Yet Dr. Jain noticed that many patients with short bowel syndrome, despite TPN treatment, often experienced serious and sometimes life-threatening liver and gut injuries. Because of this, patients require transplants to ensure that they remain healthy and safe. 

So Dr. Jain, through his research, hopes to understand how signaling pathways within the gut help contribute to short bowel syndrome injury. Further, Dr. Jain has been exploring several novel molecules in preclinical studies which he believes prevent multi-organ and multi-system damage in patients. This grant will fund research into these molecules to determine whether they are safe and effective for use. 

During his research, no human models will be used. Rather, Dr. Jain’s studies will utilize organoids to evaluate and learn more.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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