The Kyle MacFarlane Foundation

Funding research and awareness in the field of neurogastroenterology and motility

Stanford University Begins Research On GI Motility And Neurogastroenterology

Stanford University has begun research on GI Motility and Neurogastroenterology with the help of the Kyle MacFarlane Foundation. Dr. Linda Nguyen, Clinical Assistant Professor, Director GI Motility and Neurogastroenterology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, says that the clinicians and researchers at Stanford are dedicated to advancing the field of Neurogastroenterology and GI motility with an emphasis on translational research.

“Neurogastroenterology is a field that studies the role of the nervous system (central and enteric) in mediating motility disorders. From a scientific standpoint, we are interested in exploring the molecular mechanisms of disorders of the enteric nervous system including the cause of visceral (abdominal organ) pain,” she says. ” An example of our translational research involves our work with diabetic gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying as a result of diabetes). Based on studies using an animal model of diabetic gastroparesis, we uncovered a mechanism for dysfunction of the enteric nervous system. We are currently in the process of a pilot study in humans to determine if a novel therapy could reverse this dysfunction and improve our patients’ lives.”

Dr. Nguyen’s first priority for the use of funds through the Kyle MacFarlane Foundation is to perform the clinical and scientific studies that will help the research team characterize and better understand the kind of disease that affects MacFarlane. “This disease is so mysterious that there is as yet not even a diagnostic code for it. Experts who take care of this syndrome  use various unofficial terms for it such as “intestinal dysmotility” but the closest diagnostic category is intestinal pseudoobstruction, which does not do justice to this condition,” says Nguyen.

“We will therefore begin by developing a registry of such patients- beginning at two clinical sites (one of which will be at Stanford) and collect the clinical information in a database that we will analyze to look for patterns that may help us answer some basic questions such as: How common is this disease? What are the telltale symptoms?  What do tests (X-rays, motility studies) show that could be used to reliably diagnose this condition? Could this result from an infection? What is the natural course of this disease? How does it affect the lives of patients?”

At the same time, the research team will collect blood and intestinal tissue which will be analyzed by Dr. Pankay Jay Pasricha, Professor of Medicine, Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, to try and answer further questions about this disease. Some of the work will help them understand what happens to the structure of the nerves and muscles in this disease, and if there is evidence of infection or inflammation in the patient’s past or present. The research may also help the team understand what’s happening at the molecular level, and find out what genes may be turned off.

A third component of the research which will also be done by Dr. Pasricha in his laboratory, to begin development of new drugs to treat this condition. “It is expected that the information from the above studies will help us refine this search but we already have some leads and with adequate resources. This process can be greatly accelerated,” says Nguyen.

As support for this effort grows, Dr. Nguyen and the research team at Stanford University envision enrolling many more sites across the nation and with good preliminary data from the above studies, begin applying to the NIH and other organizations for further research funding.

Comments are closed.