A team of scientists led by Dr. Henry J. Binder, a professor of medicine and cellular and molecular physiology at Yale, and his two collaborators — Dr. B.S. Ramakrishna, professor of gastroenterology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, India, and Professor Graeme P. Young, head of the Flinders Centre for Cancer Prevention and Control, Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia — has proposed to modify an oral rehydration solution (ORS) by adding a starch that reduces fluid loss. The grant will enable the team to establish a network of sites that collaborate on a series of clinical trials in developing countries in hopes of identifying the most effective starch for the process.
Diarrhea-related diseases linked to poor sanitary conditions, including contaminated food and water, claim the lives of more than 1.5 million children a year, almost all of them in developing countries.
"The development of ORS to treat diarrhea more than three decades ago has been considered one of the most important milestones in therapeutics during the last century," said Binder. But while oral rehydration therapy has been responsible for a substantial reduction in infant mortality in the developing world, he added, "It is not used as much as it should be for many reasons, including the failure of mothers and caregivers to appreciate its effectiveness. Although ORS corrects dehydration, it does not reduce diarrhea."