Treating Crohn's disease with microbes

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause intense abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Our project is to test the survival in the gut of a probiotic microorganism that may bring relief to sufferers.

Thousands of people in Australia suffer from rectal bleeding, loss of appetite, fever and weight loss caused by Crohn's disease. Last year, students from The Future Project examined the survival of a probiotic microorganism through a simulated stomach environment, including under conditions that mimic buffering of low pH conditions with different milk products. We concluded at the end of that research that the probiotic has some natural acid resistance in the stomach environment, and will easily survive passage through the stomach if pH is buffered. The research we are currently conducting is a continuation from last year's experiments, in which we will now incorporate a simulated small intestine transit into the gastric model, conducting a full simulation through the stomach and small intestine. This has relevance to real world application as probiotics in general have to survive gastrointestinal transit in order to be effective, and Crohn’s disease can affect all parts of the gastric tract. Our involvement in The Future Project helps us to further our understanding of real world applications of science, which cannot be replicated in a classroom. By undertaking a research project with The Future Project, we now have some idea whether we wish to pursue a career in science.

Vithushan Lingam & Ted Simpson

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