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€2million ERC Grant for research on modulating the gut microbiome to improve drug efficacy

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09 December 2020

Dr. Jingyuan Fu of the UMCG Genetics/Paediatrics departments has received an ERC Consolidator Grant of € 2 million from the EU. She will use this to investigate whether the effectiveness of medicines can be improved by making adjustments to the whole of micro-organisms in the gastrointestinal system (intestinal microbiome). Her research focuses mainly on commonly used medication that patients receive with cardiovascular diseases or with psychiatric disorders. Her research will take 5 years.

A large number of patients do not respond well to commonly used drugs; some patients suffer from side effects. In Europe, about 3.5% of hospital admissions are related to side effects of medicines. It means that many patients are not treated properly because they do not respond or respond poorly to medicines. This not only has consequences for the patient’s well-being, but also entails enormous clinical and financial burdens.

With this ERC Consolidator Grant, Dr. Jingyuan Fu solve this problem by changing the bacteria that live in the intestines of humans. In this BugDrug project she will focus on 23 drugs, which are widely used in the treatment of cardiometabolic and psychiatric disorders. She made this choice because these are common chronic diseases that require patients to take medication on a daily basis. Examples of these medications are statins, beta blockers or ACE inhibitors.

The BugDrug project is based on a very new concept that the gut bacteria can contribute to a better individual response to medicines. Altering the gut microbiome may open up the possibility of making existing drugs work again. In her research, Jingyuan Fu uses the large LifeLines cohort study, innovative organ-on-a-chip technology and clinical interventions. It is precisely through this combination that she hopes to achieve a better prediction of the response to medicines and a greater effectiveness of the medication. This research is believed to pave the way for designing the next phase of personalized medicine, by taking into account an individual’s genetics and gut microbiome.
 
The ERC Consolidator Grant is intended for researchers who completed their thesis 7 to 12 years ago.
They must have since built up a promising scientific status and submitted an excellent research proposal.