Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer are conditions which plague the entire modern world. Scientists keep looking for means to stop this alarming trend. A unique multidisciplinary cohort study is currently being held in Poland – the only such in the country and one of the few worldwide.
THE AIM of BialystokPLUS is to identify the causes of lifestyle diseases. It is held at the Medical University of Bialystok under the direction of Professor Karol Kamiński.
The combination of imaging, functional, biochemical and molecular tests in the innovative study will help to find new ways to prevent chronic diseases, promote a healthy lifestyle and improve the organisation of healthcare. It will allow to discover new methods of early disease detection or even to predict the conditions that may affect the population in the future.
Comprehensive Health Assessment
Ten thousand citizens of Białystok aged between 20 and 80 will be randomly selected to participate in Bialystok PLUS study. They will then undergo non-invasive tests every five years. What makes this study unique is that the health of the participants will be assessed on the basis of detailed medical history and more than thirty specialist examinations, including ultrasound scans of various organs, spirometry, fundus photography or MRI, as well as biochemical tests and dental exams.
The microbiome, that is the bacteria present in an individual’s body, will also be evaluated. The project also aims to collect and store samples of blood, urine, stool, saliva and gingival crevicular fluid for future examinations with the use of innovative methods.
‘We assessed more than five hundred people in the pilot survey. We are currently carrying out the main part of the study. Almost three hundred persons have already taken part in it, and over one hundred of them have had an MRI’, says Prof. Karol Kamiński.
The first conclusions from Bialystok PLUS study indicate that the following factors frequently affect disease development in Białystok: improper diet, overweight and obesity, carbohydrate metabolism disorders and disorders of the thyroid.
Cooperation Proposals Are Welcome
The project is modelled on the Study of Health in Pomerania SHIP, which has been running since 1997 at the University of Greifswald, Germany, the official partner of the Polish team.
‘We will collaborate in analysing the results so that the groups can be larger and the results more reliable, as we wish to discover phenomena that concern the entire human population’, Prof. Kamiński explains. ‘Most of the results we have obtained will be made available for use to researchers in Poland and abroad’, he assures. The scientists are open to cooperation with researchers from a whole range of scientific domains, such as sociologists, demographers and economists, who can use the extensive records to carry out various further studies.
Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Technology Development
Some of the tests carried out in the project, for instance the magnetic resonance imaging, will be conducted at the Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Technology Development, which is equipped with a unique diagnostic apparatus – a PET/MR scanner, one of only two such devices in Poland.
The scanner combines positron emission tomography with magnetic resonance imaging. The Laboratory provides the possibility to carry out unique research in the areas of medicine, information technology and physics, such as searching for early markers in Alzheimer’s disease and diagnosing and monitoring inflammatory diseases and cancer. The Laboratory is available to medical sector businesses that run clinical trials.
Medical University of Bialystok
Department of Population Medicine and Civilization
Read more: „Science in Poland in 34 Snapshots”