Mining for Miracles, the BC mining industry’s longstanding fundraising campaign for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, is raising $3.725 million to support BC Children’s Hospital’s Gut4Health program. The initiative will further microbiome research and the development of new therapies with the goal of making BC Children’s the first children’s hospital in Canada to use gut bacteria to predict, prevent and treat infections and chronic inflammation in kids.
Why is Gut4Health so important?
- Gut4Health will further research into the use of gut bacteria to predict, prevent and treat infections and chronic inflammation in kids.
- Currently the diagnosis and treatment of many chronic diseases involve invasive procedures and medications with serious side effects – Gut4Health will study the gut microbiome to find better and safer ways to predict and prevent these diseases
- BC’s kids need microbiome research so that new and effective therapies can be developed – Gut4Health will develop and test new treatments with the goal of creating cures that will work for a lifetime
- BC Children’s Hospital has the clinical and scientific expertise to be the Canadian leader in pediatric microbiome research and therapeutic development, but the required facilities are not available in any children’s hospital in Canada – Gut4Health will provide the infrastructure needed to create these facilities and drive forward microbiome research
What is Gut4Health?
The human body is home to trillions of bacteria, ninety percent of which live inside the gut. This population of gut bacteria, known as the gut microbiome, contains a balance of both good and bad bacteria, and maintaining this balance is crucial to our overall health. An imbalance in the gut microbiome can lead to many chronic diseases, such as asthma, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease—diseases that cause lifelong pain and suffering to children.
By studying and understanding the gut microbiome, Gut4Health will be able to help the 10,000 kids in BC currently living with chronic inflammatory diseases. Once established, it will contribute to the development of new treatments for the kids who visit BC Children’s Hospital each year with devastating health conditions caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria. Gut4Health will help BC Children’s find safer, more effective ways to predict, treat and prevent these serious illnesses and infections in children.
How Gut4Health will help BC’s kids
An example of the importance of understanding gut bacteria can be found in asthma research. Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It affects 1 in 7 kids, costs over $2 billion per year in Canada and is the number one reason for a child to be absent from school or to be admitted to hospital. Currently, there is no cure.
Researchers at BC Children’s have made a ground-breaking discovery that may change this forever: they discovered that babies who develop asthma seem to be ‘missing’ certain types of intestinal bacteria in their first few months of life. These bacteria appear to act like “teachers”, educating the infant immune system to not cause asthma. Using this information, researchers will work to develop to new and safe ways replace these microbes in the at-risk babies and prevent the children from developing asthma in the first place.
Support from Mining for Miracles will establish the following cutting-edge infrastructure for Gut4Health:
- A gut microbiome profiling core to rapidly analyze patient samples using state-of-the-art equipment and profile all bacteria present in a patient’s gut
- Specialized bacterial culture facilities to grow bacteria under zero-oxygen conditions to mimic the insides of our intestines
- A microbiome culturing and imaging suite to study bacteria in stool samples and how they function and interact with human cells
An expansion of the BC Children’s Hospital Biobank for storing and cataloguing microbiome samples