Research Highlight: Kening Fan

Centre of Research Excellence in Digestive Health PhD student Dr Kening Fan is currently investigating the association between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colonic spirochaetosis for her latest project. Kening has reported some interesting results so far, finding “that colonic spirochaetes infection induces increased eotaxin-1 expression by infected epithelial cells, leading to increased eosinophil recruitment to the lamina propria and the intra-epithelial layer, where they release ECP and EMBP into the tissue and accumulated in the mucus layer, where these potent granule proteins bind to the bacteria and kill them.”

People with gut conditions will find Kening’s research particularly interesting as colonic spirochaetosis causes chronic IBS-like gastrointestinal symptoms, but is more difficult to detect as the bug not distinguishable under a microscope, and it is an uncommon infection.

Kening believes this research will greatly help patients suffering from IBS.  “By investigating the pathological mechanism of colonic spirochaetosis, we are advancing the understanding of microbial factors in the pathogenesis of IBS. In the long term, if we can prove that colonic spirochaetosis is the etiological reason for a subset of IBS patients, we will be able to identify these patients and cure them with antibiotics therapy.”