A microfluidics-based platform emulating the gastrointestinal tract on a chip

SCHEME: Proof-of-Concept

CALL: 2016

DOMAIN: BM - Life Sciences, Biology and Medicine





HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: Gut microbiota research & development, Food and Nutrition, Bio-pharmaceutical Research and Screening, Drug screening and Discovery, Human Microbiome Research

START: 2017-01-01

END: 2019-06-30

WEBSITE: https://www.uni.lu

Submitted Abstract

Human gut microbiome has become central to human health and disease. Emerging evidences accumulated from large-scale multi-omic clinical studies from patients vs healthy control subjects highlight strong correlation between microbiome and various disease states. Lack of clear understanding of the role of human microbiome in causing these diseases is partly linked to the complexity of probing the human patients as well as due to lack of proper representative animal models. On one hand, where the community is focussed on establishing causality of the myriad array of diseases where human microbiome is touted to play a role, there is a growing need among a subset of researchers who are interested in deciphering the strong links to diet-driven alterations in the gut microbiome. Their major focus is to conduct in-depth scrutiny of the role of diet in shaping the human gut microbiome composition and ecology. The resulting knowledge-base would pave way for development of simple diet-based therapies to modulate dysbiotic microbiomes back to their healthy states. Such experiments are especially interesting also for standardizing the popular Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) therapy which has found promising application in treatment for a number of diseases. At present, the only system on the market allowing comprehensive screening of the effect of diet on microbiome is the Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME). While more complex systems such as HuMiX exist for elucidating host-microbiome interactions along the gastrointestinal tract, the food and nutraceuticals industry is only interested in research and development of the products targeting the microbiome (not the human host) where SHIME is clearly the state-of-the-art. While extremely popular, SHIME is a cost and labor intensive setup, making it very difficult to met the exponential growth in demand and interest of the scientific community to test screen food compounds targeting the human gut microbiome. While the high setup acquisition costs (~EUR 250k) prevents laboratories around the world to widely utilize the platform, the lengthy experimental protocol (~6-12 weeks) coupled with low throughput (max 2 experiments can be run in parallel) even make it difficult for the company (www.prodigest.eu) offering this model as a service to meet the demands and scale operations.With our revolutionary patent-pending solution, microGUT, we want to completely disrupt this field, which has remained unchanged since the establishment of the first bioreactor-based in vitro model in 1993. microGUT is an automated, shoebox size desktop version which shares some important features with the SHIME model but has additional features fully integrated (pumps, sensors, sampling, control software) which makes it the most advanced model of the human gut. With microGUT, we wish to democratize gut microbiota research & development and in the process establish microGUT as a new standard for research in the human microbiome research community.

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