uBiome Awards Grant to COMSATS University in Pakistan to Study the Association Between Arsenic Poisoning and Stunted Growth in Low-Income Children

Share Article

The leader in microbial genomics awards grant to team of researchers at COMSATS University in Islamabad, Pakistan to investigate the role of arsenic and pathogens in stunting children’s growth.

"Poor farming practices as well as exposure to toxic doses of arsenic through drinking unsafe water drastically impact the gut microbiota of vulnerable populations (i.e. mothers and children)..." - Dr. Habib Bokhari, PhD

Through its Microbiome Grant Initiative, uBiome, the leader in microbial genomics, has awarded microbiome research support in study design, planning, sample collection, and analysis to researchers at COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI) led by Dr. Habib Bokhari, PhD, Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, to study the individual or cumulative role of arsenic and/or C. jejuni, the leading cause of bacterial foodborne gastroenteritis worldwide, in modulating children's’ gut microbiota and stunting their growth.

The goal of the study is to characterize the microbiota of children showing stunted growth from arsenic-polluted groundwater and the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. In addition, researchers will investigate the pathogenesis of disease by correlating the metabolites with the overall gut microbiota of children when infected with either C. jejuni or arsenic or both. The team hopes that new positively correlated taxa will be recognized as targets for future probiotic development (as prophylactic for stunted growth) and will improve understanding of the pathogenesis involved in stunted growth in low-income regions with poor sanitation, poor farming practicing, and a lack of safe drinking water.

Data collected from the study will include microbiome composition from uBiome’s patented kits to test for the presence of C. jejuni, urine, hair, or blood samples to test for arsenic exposure, and age and sex of the child.

“This study will contribute to our understanding of how toxins and pathogens alter the gut microbiome of children in regions with poor sanitation and lack of adequate drinking water,” said Jessica Richman, PhD, co-founder and CEO of uBiome. “We are proud to support COMSATS University in their investigation of this vulnerable population.”

Dr. Bokhari received his PhD in Infection and Immunology from the University of Glasgow in 2002 and has completed four postdocs from Perelman School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and George Mason University. He is a recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship (2002, 2013) and a Fulbright Fellowship (2016-2017). Dr. Bokhari is responsible for starting a teaching/research program in Bioinformatics and setting up the Department of Biosciences laboratories at CUI in 2003. As a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in the Department of Biosciences, Dr. Bokhari collaborates with the National University of Singapore, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, George Mason University, Florida International University, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the University of Pennsylvania.

About the grant, Dr. Bokhari said, “Stunted growth in children can be caused by many factors of which nutritionists and economists are working to investigate. Poor farming practices as well as exposure to toxic doses of arsenic through drinking unsafe water drastically impact the gut microbiota of vulnerable populations (i.e. mothers and children), contributing to stunted growth in children and leading to a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and compromised human capital that is difficult to interrupt. This vicious cycle can only be effectively tackled by enhanced environmental surveillance as well as a better understanding of the changing spectrum of gut microbiota under prevailing environmental stress and after implementing gut correctional strategies.”

Through its Microbiome Grant Initiative, uBiome has awarded millions of dollars in research support to hundreds of investigators around the world at renowned academic institutions and not-for-profit research organizations, including Harvard University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, San Francisco, Oxford University, and the University of Sydney. Awards include patented microbiome sequencing kits, as well as research support in study design, planning, sample collection, and analysis. To learn more about our award process or to submit a grant proposal, visit http://www.ubiome.com/microbiome-grant-initiative/.

About uBiome
Founded in 2012, uBiome is the leader in microbial genomics. The Company’s mission is to advance the science of the microbiome and make it useful to people. uBiome combines its patented proprietary precision sequencing™ with machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop wellness products, clinical tests, and therapeutic targets. uBiome has filed for over 250 patents on its technology, which includes sample preparation, computational analysis, molecular techniques, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

uBiome’s commercial products include SmartGut™, the world’s first sequencing-based clinical microbiome test, which identifies microbes in the gut for patients with chronic gut conditions such as IBD, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis; SmartJane™, the first sequencing-based women’s health screening test, which genotypes all 19 clinically relevant strains of HPV, identifies four common STDs, and surveys more than 20 vaginal microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis and other conditions; and Explorer™, a health and wellness product to understand the role that food and lifestyle can play in wellness.

uBiome’s platform has been used by hundreds of thousands of consumers, patients, and doctors and more than 200 research institutions around the world, including the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Harvard University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, San Francisco, Oxford University, and the University of Sydney.

Since its launch, the company has received widespread recognition including CNN 10: Startups to Watch, the IVY Technology Award, CNN Future 30, and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Healthcare in 2016 and in Data Science in 2018, as well as a Technology Pioneer from the World Economic Forum in 2018. For more information, visit http://www.uBiome.com.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

uBiome Public Relations
@uBiome
Follow >
Visit website