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Gastroenterology & nutrition

Understanding how children grow and develop, and the diseases that affect growth and development are important to the researchers at the Steele Center.

One of the areas of study is phosphate absorption. Fayez Ghishan, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist and director of the Steele Center, began his research in phosphate absorption in children years ago to find answers to a clinical problem--children with Vitamin D resistant rickets. But what he is learning in his lab has applications far beyond this childhood disease and may eventually help develop a treatment for osteoporosis.

Dr. Ghishan has identified the gene responsible for phosphate absorption, which may pave the way for a treatment for children with Vitamin D resistant rickets. He also had identified the gene responsible for phosphate exit from the cell. Learning more about this process may lead to the development of methods to block retroviruses, such as AIDS, from entering human cells.

Breast-feeding gives babies the very best nutrition possible. Researchers at the Steele Center and elsewhere have discovered a growth factor in breast milk that may improve growth and development. Called epidermal growth factor (EGF), this small protein is present in high concentrations in breast milk, but not in commercial formula or the formula we feed to premature babies. A grant from the National Institutes of Health has funded research to determine if adding this growth factor would cause a premature baby's intestines to develop faster and improve overall growth. Researchers hope to be able to conduct clinical trials in a few years.


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UA College of Medicine : Arizona Health Sciences Center : The University of Arizona

Steele Children's Research Center
1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Suite 3301
PO Box 245073
Tucson, Arizona 85724
Phone: (520) 626-2221

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