Medical research

Caritas Baby Hospital (CBH) is strategically committed to be involved in medical research in alignment with the national ob¬jectives of the Palestinian Min¬istry of Health. The CBH medical research commit¬tee are leading several research projects that are not only medically relevant to the local community but also impact international procedures. 

Rotavirus Vaccination
CBH’s research on the number one etiological agent of gastroenteritis in children, Rotavirus, paved the way for CBH to partner with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through Postropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation to research the recently WHO- ap-proved Rotavirus vaccine, Rotavac®. The latter was introduced in Palestine’s national childhood im¬munization basket to compact rotavirus infections. 

The result of the CBH research on the epidemiology of rotavirus after the introduction of Rotavac® will have a global health impact on the utilization of this newly introduced vaccine. 

Genetic Diseases
CBH collaborated with various international institu¬tions to identify potential genetic disease patterns in the Palestinian pediatric population, which may lead to an array of intellectual and developmental disabilities. This partnership resulted in discovering the defective STYXL1 and GPT2 mutations among the studied Palestinian families. Such findings signifi¬cantly enhance the level of diagnosis, as well as the understanding for neurodevelopmental syndromes on a national level. Based on these results, CBH is also planning on investing resources to establish a genetic counseling clinic.

Cystic Fibrosis
CBH formed a liaison with national and internation¬al universities to study cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. This involved assessing the feasibility of new ther¬apeutic options, the cost burden of purchasing the medication, as well as measuring the awareness of parents in providing healthy nutrition for children. These research projects clearly showed that there was a need for treatment alternatives and nutritional availability for CF patients. This will, in turn, improve their quality of life, health status and longevity.

Antimicrobial Stewardship 
The clinical laboratory of CBH is leading a nation¬al initiative to train 21 local hospitals in diagnostic microbiology. To achieve that, CBH worked jointly with national hospitals to evaluate the spread of extremely antibiotic resistant bacteria in Palestine. Accordingly, the CBH lab characterized the detected resistant bacteria for other hospitals. This research proved that the spread of resistant bacteria is a prominent phenomenon in Palestine, as the CBH team managed to identify carbapenem and colistin resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae. This implicates a negative impact on global health and mandates the urgency of introducing antibiotic stewardship in the country. 

Similarly, evaluating the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) interpretation guide¬lines was another major research conducted at CBH. This involved studying the antibiotic Azith¬romycin, which is utilized for the treatment of the gastroenteritis pathogen Shigella. The findings of the study were published in a peer-reviewed journal and will help the CLSI scientific committees in up¬dating these guidelines. They would also aid labo¬ratories in providing accurate results for the treating physicians.