To connect the dots between microbiome and disease, we need to be as versatile as the microbiome itself. Key area
Despite evidence of the gut microbiome’s role in our health, researchers are still working out what a healthy community of microbes looks like and how the microbiome influences our health and recovery options. By now we know the functioning of the microbiome as a whole is important to our immunesystem, but we need to find out more.

Disturbance to the community of microbes living in our gut can contribute to the risk and severity of a host of medical conditions: diseases such as diabetes, gut diseases such as colitis ulcerosa and coeliakie, infectional diseases, but also brain related diseases such as depression and anxiety. It can also influence the efficacy of medication or be changed by antacids.

No wonder this area of research interests so many human health researchers within the UMCG. Right now we are working on the microbiome from several different angles.

Cohort data and on a chip projects

Data from the Lifelines cohort show changes in the microbiome can lead to protection against type 2 diabetes but also to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Data from the same cohort provides us with faeces samples, so we can sequence the DNA of both healthy and sick people and add data to the Dutch Microbiome Project.

In the intestine on a chip project we try to imitate the wall of the intestine as closely as possible, complete with intestinal villi, blood vessel cells and, below that, blood cells. We hope to link the intestine on a chip to the brain on a chip so that we can investigate the relationship between composition of the microbiome and Parkinson's disease.