THRIVE stands for "The Study of Host-bacterial Relationships and Immune function in different Vaginal Environments". It is a collection of studies that aim to understand how the reproductive environment is working differently for different women, and how compositions of microbes and their products (the "microbiome") influence health and disease. We are currently conducting four studies to investigate bacterial vaginosis, infertility and IVF success, HPV and its relationship with cervical cancer and the microbiome, and vaginal yeast infections.
Our bodies have more microbial cells than human cells(1, 2). These microbes form diverse “microbiomes” that live on and within the human body. The skin, gut, hair, and vagina are some of the places where microbes such as bacteria and fungi can be naturally found, and they interact with each other and our bodies. A person’s first exposure to microbes likely occurs during birth from a variety of sources, including the maternal bacteria(3). But as we grow up, our diet and environment shape the microbiome as it becomes a unique and important part of us(1).
The microbiome plays an essential role in health and disease, helping us to digest food(4), ward off pathogens(5), and develop the immune system(6, 7). Sometimes, however, the microbiome is pushed off balance, leading to dysbiosis. In this case, the normal healthy interactions between ourselves and the microbiome is lost, making us more susceptible to disease such as infection and cancer(8, 9). The microbiome plays an essential role in health and disease, helping us to digest food, ward off pathogens, and develop the immune system. Sometimes, however, the microbiome is pushed off balance, leading to dysbiosis. In this case, the normal healthy interactions between ourselves and the microbiome is lost, making us more susceptible to disease such as infection and cancer.
One third of women experience bacterial vaginosis (BV), which causes irritation, odour, and discharge(10). BV is associated with an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome(11). In approximately half of women who are treated for BV, they experience recurrence within 6 months to a year(12).
We are studying why treatment for BV does not work for some women, and how it is influenced by the vaginal environment.
Infertility is defined as the failure to establish a pregnancy after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse(13). It is estimated infertility affects roughly 8-12% of couples worldwide wanting to start a family(14). Multiple factors can contribute to infertility on both the female and male sides.
We are studying to find out if the microbiome in the female and male genital tract can be correlated to infertility and possible IVF failure.
HPV stands for human papilloma virus. Over 170 types of HPV are known(15, 16), with some causing health problems ranging from warts to cervical cancer(17). Inflammation is a driver of cancer progression(18), and research shows that the microbiome changes how our bodies respond to infection through inflammation(19-22).
We are studying how the vaginal microbiome influences the development of cervical cancer in the presence of certain high risk HPV infections.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis, an infection caused by an overgrowth of yeast, affects 50-70% of women at least once in their life(23). In some women, yeast infections are a recurring problem even with treatment, while in others, they show no symptoms(24).
We are studying to find out if yeast diversity explains why women have a variety of responses to infection and treatment.
THRIVE is made up of a team of research scientists, clinicians and nurses all working together to study the vaginal microbiome and to understand its link to health, disease, and successful therapies.
Participants will be seen by nurses and gynaecologists from the Women’s Health
Research Program located at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Clinical and self collected samples taken for this study will be brought to the research laboratory sites located at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba through the University of Manitoba. We also collaborate extensively with research partners at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.
All samples will be anonymous to research scientists, and will be used to determine how the bacterial and fungal environment, host immune system and external factors (such as diet, hygiene and sexual practices) relate to your health and the vaginal environment.
For any questions or if you are interested in participating, please contact us at:
(Health Sciences Centre)
715 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 3P4, Canada
09:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m.
Please leave a message if you receive voicemail!