Miriam is spending the first 18 months of her project at Cherry Biotech, France, to develop the gut-on-a-chip model. Cherry Biotech is one of several non-academic partners in the GROWTH EID consortium; collaborating with academic institutions to shorten the path from basic research to clinical applications. In Spring 2021, Miriam will join the Tytgat Institute for Liver and Intestinal Research in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she will use the model to research host-microbe interactions in the infant gut.
One main bottleneck in researching the interaction of the host and gut microbiota is culturing anaerobic microbiota together with oxygen dependent gut epithelial cells. This challenge will be addressed during the industrial part of the project at Cherry Biotech.
In detail, Miriam will design and validate a gut-on-a-chip system that works for mouse and human cells and tissues (1) defining the chip specifications based on identified end users and outcomes requirements, (2) test and determine most suited materials, (3) design and prototype the chip, (4) characterize the chip (optically, thermally) and perform quality assurance, and (5) validate the gut-on-a-chip system by testing in wet lab conditions and compare it with 2D and 3D organoid cultures.
With this gut-on-a-chip, Miriam will move to the Academic Medical Centre to use it in conjunction with human biopsies and organoids. The aim will be to investigate the role of AhR ligands and IL-22 in host-microbe interaction in preterm infants. Lastly, the mechanisms of action of AhR producing bacteria and AhR ligands will be assessed in gut development using the newly established gut-on-a-chip system and human stool samples.