$1 million grant for major cystic fibrosis study

A $1 million grant has been awarded to Dr Keith Ooi, Gastroenterologist at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, to investigate whether probiotics can improve the overall health and life expectancy of children with cystic fibrosis.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Clinical Research Award will be used for a multicentre, double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial to determine whether daily probiotics for one year can improve gut bacterial community, inflammation and digestive system function. The impact of digestive symptoms and lung function will also be examined.

The study will be the world’s largest randomised control trial using probiotics in children with cystic fibrosis under the age of six.

In the second year of the study, children will be observed without any intervention to see if any effects of the probiotics are long-lasting.

“One of the major issues children with cystic fibrosis face is gut inflammation that leads to an inability to grow and put on weight. There is also a lot of evidence linking abnormal imbalances in the gut bacterial microbiome with different human diseases and poor health. Our earlier works have shown that children with CF have abnormal imbalances in their gut microbiome from a very early life,” Dr Ooi said.

“Our hope is that we can modify the natural course of cystic fibrosis using a safe and easily accessible intervention such as probiotics. Our earlier works suggest that any intervention may be more effective if started at a younger age."

The study is currently recruiting children with cystic fibrosis as well as healthy children under six years old as volunteers for healthy control stool samples.