March 21, 2016
1 min read

NIH awards hepatologist grant for research in parenteral nutrition-associated disorders

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The NIH National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases awarded $703,620 to Ajay Jain, MD, pediatric hepatologist and medical director of the pediatric liver transplant program at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, and researcher at Saint Louis University, for research in preventing damage to the liver and gut from parenteral nutrition-associated disorders, according to a press release.

The grant will allow Jain to further his research on the role of bile acid activated receptors FXR and TGR5 in parenteral nutrition-associated hepatic and gut disease. It will focus on understanding the interplay of bile acid regulated pathways that modulate the gut-liver axis during parenteral nutrition infusion, according to the release. Strategies and pharmacological therapies to correct complications from the infusion, such as liver disease and bowel disease, will then be developed.

Ajay Jain, MD

Ajay Jain

“There are about a 100 trillion bacteria in the gut. In fact, microbial genome exceeds the human genome by almost a 100-fold, making us genetically 99% bacteria and 1% human,” Jain said in the release. “[Parenteral nutrition] may change the finely regulated gut microbiome. Our measures are aimed at restoring the normal gut-liver cross talk and the gut microbiome to as close to normal again as possible.”

According to Jain, infants, children and adults receive parenteral nutrition when part, or all, of their digestive system does not function normally. Because of this, intravenous feeding is performed, in which patients are given a solution containing carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This type of therapy is critical for sick infants, children and adults all around the world, according to the release, but may cause several complications.

There are currently no approved therapies to prevent the onset of the liver and bowel disease.

 “It would be the biggest reward if we can ultimately devise interventions to help [parenteral nutrition]-associated injuries which unfortunately maximally affect our most vulnerable and most precious population segment: the babies,” Jain said.

Jain previously received a $150,000 grant from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition in 2015 and a $50,000 grant from the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Rhoads Research Foundation in 2014 for his research on parenteral nutrition disorders.

Disclosure: was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures of Jain at the time of publication.