Investigating how the composition of bacteria in the human gut changes as a result of trauma

Lead researchers: Beryl Oppenheim, Anna Casey, Fenella Halstead

Aim: We aim to collect faecal samples from patients in our ITU ward and investigate the microbial community (microbiome) using cutting-edge shotgun metagenomics (a type of DNA sequencing).

Background: In health, the human gut contains a rich collection of bacteria. In critically ill trauma patients (especially those in intensive care), the composition often changes, so that the gut contains only a few bacteria. Studies have linked this reduced diversity to increased likelihood of blood poisoning and death, but have not investigated where the bacteria have come from, or whether they are linked to antimicrobial resistance.

Method: Once the team has devised appropriate protocols, they will perform a small study, recruiting up to 30 patients from intensive care. Faecal samples will be collected at admission and then at least once per week, and at discharge, and a subset selected for shotgun metagenomics analysis.

Measure findings: The DNA sequencing will provide information on the bacterial composition of the faecal sample, and will also provide insights into the epidemiology/origin of the contained bacteria (such as whether they came from the patient, or the environment), and whether they carry antimicrobial resistance.

Lead researchers