Tackling health issues at their origin with NEW1000 study

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Researchers will study the human microbiome in pregnant women, fathers, and their children to determine the impact of a healthy microbiome on health outcomes.

New1000 study

Precision microbiome science leaders, Microba Life Sciences, have joined with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle, and Hunter New England Health in the NEW1000 Family Study.

The NEW1000 Family Study consists of a pregnancy cohort involving 1000 babies and their families recruited each year over several years. The study will attempt to understand how the first 1000 days of life impact health and wellbeing into adulthood. Researchers will work on several trials targeting different health issues, including studying the microbiome of families.

New1000 study director, Chair in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Professor in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Professor Craig Pennell, said the microbiome - microorganisms which live on and inside us, played a central role in health and disease.

"During pregnancy, a woman's gut microbiome undergoes substantial changes that can influence weight gain and insulin insensitivity," Professor Pennell said.

"Additionally, alterations in maternal microbiome composition have now been linked to important pregnancy health conditions such as preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. These health conditions can have a lasting effect on both maternal and infant health."

Using the NEW1000 Family Study, researchers will investigate the role of the microbiome in the developmental origins of health and disease. Samples from both mothers and fathers will be collected to see how their profiles influence their child's developing microbiome.

The study will use Microba's highly reliable microbiome sample collection device to capture stool samples from the cohort of mothers, fathers, and babies. Once collected, Microba will undertake high-resolution metagenomic sequencing of the gut microbiome throughout the study phases, using their optimised sample processing workflow to comprehensively profile participants' gut microbiome.

Head of Research Partnerships at Microba, Dr Kylie Ellis, explained that the company's robust technologies for sample collection and sequencing were critical for establishing high-quality data and creating meaningful findings.

"This study is exciting for us and Australian research as it will help us to understand influences on early life development that can be monitored and targeted to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies throughout their life course," Dr Ellis said.

"Microba is delighted to enable this high-quality research in an area of critical importance."

The first phase will include 750 families, ramping up to 1000 families each year for more than five years. There will be six samples per family – two from mum, one from dad and three from the child.

Professor Pennell said the study aimed to set children most at-risk of chronic disease on a life trajectory of health.

"Imagine if you could predict adult disease early and then use precise interventions to put people on trajectories to health rather than a disease?"

NEW1000 will unite research groups, universities, organisations, institutions and the community to achieve this goal and improve the health of future generations.

Those interested in joining the study can find out more at www.new1000.org.au.


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