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Spotlight on Research

Therapeutic efficacy of polyphenols in experimental cystic fibrosis: their role in intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress and microbiota dysbiosis
Dr. Emile Levy

Dr. Emile Levy, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Montreal and Scientific Director of the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Unit at Le Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, recently received funding from Cystic Fibrosis Canada for his study, Therapeutic efficacy of polyphenols in experimental cystic fibrosis: their role in intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress and microbiota dysbiosis. Cystic Fibrosis Canada awarded this funding as part of our 2021 Grants & Awards Competition and are looking forward to the results of the study.

In 2021, Cystic Fibrosis Canada worked with the cystic fibrosis community to determine the community’s top 11 CF-related health areas of focus. One of these was to improve gastrointestinal (GI) pain management. Dr. Levy’s research study, if successful, will contribute to this important community health priority.

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that is known primarily for its impact on lung function, but people with CF know very well that there are many other organs throughout the body that are affected as well. A major area of concern for people with CF is in the gastrointestinal tract, where there are many complications that cause dysfunction and discomfort. One critical issue is the buildup of mucus and viscosity, secondary to limited bicarbonate production resulting in blockage of the pancreatic duct, which impacts the ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.

“Research into understanding various faulty processes, how to prevent them and the eventual cure of cystic fibrosis has been at the heart of our work,” wrote Dr. Levy in his research proposal. “Our leading-edge studies have helped expand the knowledge of CF disease complications.”

Cranberries contain polyphenols that are known to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Polyphenols include a group of compounds that have been successful in treating various health issues. Dr. Levy has proposed that these polyphenols could be beneficial in addressing the oxidative stress and inflammation in the GI system experienced by people with CF. Oxidative stress and inflammation are common in the intestines and digestive organs of people with cystic fibrosis and can cause significant disturbances.

Dr. Levy also hopes to determine how polyphenols work with CFTR modulators that are becoming more broadly available to people who live with CF in Canada. If results show to be positive in this study, Dr. Levy expects that the use of polyphenols will provide opportunities for novel therapies, “with the potential to translate to creative management strategies.

Dr. Levy was named a Cystic Fibrosis Canada-Recognized Investigator for 2022. This prestigious award acknowledges the investigators who submitted a highly-ranked grant proposal to the Cystic Fibrosis Canada grants and awards competition, as determined by the organization’s scientific review panel. Dr. Levy’s proposal ranked second among the basic science research grant submissions and third among research grants overall. We congratulate Dr. Levy on this achievement. We are eager to see the progress of his research and the potential for a positive impact on the daily lives of people with CF.