Medical Researchers Awarded Gastroenterology Prize

Posted on: 19 January 2009

Researchers in clinical medicine at the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, Adelaide and Meath Hospital Dublin incorporating the National Children’s Hospital (AMNCH) Tallaght  were recently awarded prizes at the 10th European Bridging Meeting in Gastroenterology.  These meetings were founded by Professor O’Morain, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Medicine at AMNCH, to create links and networks among academic institutions in Eastern and Western Europe and to promote projects of mutual interest amongst young researchers. 

 Researcher, Dr Sarah O’Donnell was awarded first prize for her poster presentations entitled Eosinohilic Eosophagitis: An Irish Experience along with her colleagues Dr Orlaith Kelly and Dr Mary Shuhaibar.  Dr Anthony O’Connor and Dr. Chun Seng Lee were also awarded third prize for their poster entitled Passive Immunotherapy for Resistant Clostridium Difficile infection.
Eosinophilc Esophagitis is a rare disorder first reported in the 1970s. In America, it affects approximately 43 per 100,000.  It should be considered in adults with dysphagia, episodes of food impaction and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), resistant to standard anti reflux treatments. It should also be considered in children with dysphagia, abdominal pain, food impaction, vomiting or feeding disorders. Furthermore, it has been associated with allergies.  Recent reports suggest that EE is increasing in incidence and that this increase cannot be explained by increased recognition of the disorder. Within one Dublin teaching hospital only 11 cases were identified over an eight year period.  While this disorder remains rare it is important that the diagnosis be considered based on syptomatology, even when the oesophagus is endoscopically normal, and that adequate biopsies be taken.

Clostridium Difficile infection is a growing problem in both hospitals and the community and has been the subject of much debate in both the popular and medical media. Resistant severe infection, while uncommon, may cause life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Over the last 12 months doctors at AMNCH have been using cutting-edge therapies aimed at stimulating patients’ immune system to treat this disorder with encouraging results. This may well help to provide new treatment protocols for patients afflicted with this infection.