Effect of prophylactic dextrose gel on the infant gut microbiome

Project Code: 10439444

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Dr Tommi Vatanen (tvat287)

Principal investigator: Dr Justin O'Sullivan

Application open date: 06 Nov 2018

Application deadline: 30 Jun 2019

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


The gut microbiome plays an important role in early immune development and starts developing towards mature, adult composition immediately after birth. Orally administered dextrose gel is a simple and effective treatment for low blood sugar levels in babies. Clinicians and parents are often concerned about the effects this treatment has on the gut microbiome, which are not known nor have been studied.

The hPOD trial is currently recruiting babies at risk of low blood sugars to determine whether giving preventative dextrose gel can reduce low blood sugar levels and admission to intensive care. To assess treatment’s effect on the gut microbiome, we will recruit 180 babies which will be divided into three groups (dextrose gel treatment, placebo treatment, no treatment control) and collect their stool at three different time points; 1 day, 1 week and 1 month after birth. Microbiota of the stool samples will be determined using 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

-    Ability to learn lab techniques to extract DNA from the collected stool samples.
-    Ability to learn bioinformatics techniques to analyse the DNA sequencing data
-    Prior experience in lab work is required
-    Prior programming and bioinformatics skills are not required but are considered as an advantage


This project aims at determining the effect of oral dextrose gel on the baby’s gut microbiome. The findings will be important for understanding the effect of dextrose gel not only for possible prevention of low sugars in the future, but for the thousands of babies around the world already receiving dextrose gel for treatment of low blood sugar levels.

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