Microbiome Advancements

Small Intestine Aspirate Tool

The Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) program at Cedars-Sinai is dedicated to the development of novel drugs and devices to diagnose and treat patients in microbiome-based conditions. Many basic science, translational and clinical research projects are ongoing at MAST, with the overarching aim of increasing our understanding of the gut microbiome and its role in human health and disease.

One of the most ambitious of these studies is a large-scale effort to understand the small bowel microbiome for the first time. Since the small intestine is the absorbing surface, elements that bacteria produce here are more likely to be absorbed and impact health. Researchers will examine how various gut microbes may be affected by genetic makeup and which genes are turned on or off in various parts of the gut. 

Numerous challenges have needed to be overcome to study the microbiome of the small intestine. One challenge has been that the amount of fluid that can be aspirated from this area is limited. Another challenge is typical catheters are contaminated as they traverse the endoscope through which these samples are obtained. 

In collaboration with Hobbs Medical, Cedars-Sinai scientists have developed a novel system for quickly and easily obtaining small intestine aspirates. This new system will become integral to the study of the small intestine in relationship to the microbiome. The small intestine aspirate tool will thus directly impact the areas of gastrointestinal functional and motility disorder diagnosis and treatment.