Manisha Juthani, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases); Program Director, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program; Associate Program Director for Career Development, Traditional Internal Medicine Residency Program; Director of Internal Medicine Fellowship Programs

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A Novel Approach to UTIs

Using cranberry to treat urinary tract infection (UTI) began with the Native Americans; infectious disease physician Manisha Juthani-Mehta, MD, seeks to build on this ancient concept to help elderly women prevent this common and uncomfortable infection.

Elderly women often cannot ingest the volume of cranberry juice necessary to keep UTIs at bay, so in a pilot dosing study funded by YCCI, Dr. Juthani-Mehta, a 2009 YCCI Scholar, took a different approach: cranberry capsules. She concluded that taking capsules containing type-A proanthocyanidin , a tannin found in cranberries which is thought to prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, would suffice to prevent UTI in an elderly population. Taking a capsule that contains cranberry extract, rather than drinking large quantities of cranberry juice, Dr. Juthani-Mehta said, delivers the benefits of PAC to elderly patients while removing the negatives, such as the high sugar load of juice, the strong taste, and the difficulty of consuming an adequate amount.

With the data she collected from the dosing study, Dr. Juthani-Mehta was able to secure R01 funding for an intervention study looking at the effects of cranberry capsule use in 185 women in 21 nursing homes. The women are given either placebo or two capsules containing cranberry extract, and Dr. Juthani-Mehta is tracking the appearance of bacteria and white blood cells in their urine over time, as well as any reported UTIs, to see if the capsules have their intended effect.

As a YCCI Scholar, Dr. Juthani-Mehta says she was able to take advantage of YCCI’s infrastructure to access reduced lab rates for the urine analysis necessary for her study, helping her to make the most efficient use of her award. This support allowed her to gain further funding to expand her research. “Hopefully, the findings of this interventional trial will further be able to inform clinical care in terms of this prevention strategy for UTI in older women,” she said.