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Gut on a chip takes home Healthcare Research Award of the year
A project looking at the impact of diet on colorectal cancer cells, using ‘HuMiX’, the gut on a chip developed by the lab of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Paul Wilmes at the University of Luxembourg’s LCSB, took home the Healthcare Research Award at the 2019 Luxembourg Healthcare Awards.
The HuMiX tool – which has received extensive support from various FNR programmes since it was first conceived – allows researchers to observe the communication between bacteria and human cells in the digestive system. HuMiX therefore provides a completely accurate representation of the cellular and molecular processes at work in the human intestine. The tool can help to better understand and therefore promote the discovery of new treatments for obesity, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, the Healthcare Research Award was awarded for the lab’s study of the molecular effects of a probiotic and a dietary regimen on colorectal cancer cells
Dr Kacy Greenhalgh, Postdoc in the Wilmes lab (Eco-Systems Biology group) presented HuMiX at the Healthcare Awards. As part of her PhD, Dr Greenhalgh used HuMiX to study the interaction between dietary components, gut bacteria, host health and disease state.
In 2016, three FNR funded projects also won at the Healthcare Awards – find out more.
Find out more about the research surrounding HuMiX in our selection of FNR highlights below.
Research is steadily painting a picture revealing the significance the human gut microbiome plays in health and disease. From gastrointestinal tract disorders to the beginnings and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and beyond, the gut microbiome is a treasure trove of clues for researchers. We speak to three women in science – a biomedical scientist, a microbiologist and a bioscience engineer – about organs-on-chips and restoring an imbalanced microbiome.
The number of genes possessed by the trillions of microbes in a human body outnumbers the host’s genes at least 150 times, justifying the comparison of the microbiome to a second genome – or even an overlooked organ. Global microbiome research over the past 15 years has therefore focused on answering a single question: are our microbiota affected by our health status, or are they are actively involved it?
Researchers from the University of Luxembourg have discovered a combination of dietary factors and gut bacteria that inhibits the progression of colorectal cancer. The findings, published in the open-access journal Cell Reports, could help exploit dietary regimens for therapeutic purposes to improve chemotherapy efficacy and reduce toxicity.
Paul Wilmes’ original background is in Environmental Sciences, but with his FNR ATTRACT Fellowship and move from the United States to Luxembourg in 2010, the Luxembourg national branched out into biomedicine. We spoke to the prolific scientist about his ‘gut-on-a-chip’ model, the importance of carving out research niches, his goals and recent parental leave period.
By the time Parkinson’s disease manifests in symptoms such as tremors, parts of the brain have already been damaged beyond repair. In a quest to shed light on the early stages of the disease, a team of researchers led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Paul Wilmes, has discovered that the gut of Parkinson’s patients differs from that of healthy people – even at early stages of the disease.
Kacy Greenhalgh has always had an affectation for medicine and health, and how health can be influenced by dietary habits. During her Master studies, the Luxembourg-American national was introduced to FNR ATTRACT Fellow Paul Wilmes and the ‘gut on a chip’, HuMiX. Fascinated by its potential, and how it could be used to study the relation between diet and health, Kacy’s curiosity led her straight to an AFR PhD at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg.
When he began his career as a scientist, Paul Wilmes never imagined that his home country would one day become the base for successful research. It was the beginning of the millennium and Luxembourg was still an unknown spot on the global scientific map.