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Stability and reliability of a fecal marker of gut inflammation (Chitinase-3-like-1) in health and disease

A 2019/2020 Summer Studentship research project

This work will provide further information on this novel stool marker and provide useful information in considering further work on this marker in the setting of IBD.

Student: Jessica Permain
Supervisors: Associate Professor Jacqui Keenan, Ms Laura Appleton, Paediatrics, UOC; Professor Andrew Day, Paediatrics, UOC; Dr Shaun Ho, PhD student, Paediatrics UOC
Sponsor: Cure Kids and The Department of Paediatrics, UOC

Introduction

We have recently demonstrated that a novel marker, chitinase-3-like-1, can provide a reliable indicator of gut inflammation in the setting of inflammatory bowel disease in children.

This novel marker provided a reliable indication of the current disease activity in children with known IBD. It was also able to be provide an indication of the future risk of relapse in those in remission at the time of first testing.

While our recent findings are important and relevant to considering this marker in a clinical role, there is not currently any data about the stability of this protein in stool samples. Nor are there any data on the variability of this protein across time of testing or age.

Aim

The primary aim of this project is to establish the stability and consistency of this protein in stool samples. A secondary goal will be to establish the pattern of this marker in samples from healthy children across a range of ages.

Method

Laboratory experiments will use known amounts of chitinase-3-like-1 protein added to stool samples (from healthy volunteers) to assess the impact of particular environmental factors (e.g. storage temperature, time and freeze/thaw cycles) to establish the stability of the protein. The time of day and the consistency of sampling from within a stool sample will help to ascertain the reliability of testing protocols

Chitinase-3-like-1 will be measured (using an immunoassay) in stools previously collected from a group of healthy infants and children and in a second set of samples from a group of children with other gut conditions (e.g. cystic fibrosis) to establish the patterns in these settings.

Student researcher’s component of the study

The student will complete all required laboratory experiments under direct supervision. They will subsequently analyse the results arising and prepare a report detailing these findings from scientific publication.

Student Prerequisites

Student with laboratory experience. Communication and agreement has been undertaken with Jessica Permain.

How to apply

Email jacqui.keenan@otago.ac.nz