International experts discussed the latest research on the link between intestinal bacteria and chronic intestinal inflammation at the international symposium.
Yesterday, Thursday June 15, 2023, the Kiel DFG Research Group 5042 "miTarget" at Kiel University (CAU) hosted an international symposium. In Kiel's Maritim Hotel, around 100 scientists discussed current research questions on the connections between the intestinal microbiome, i.e. all the microorganisms living in the intestine, and chronic inflammatory bowel disease. This core topic of the miTarget research group is also an important part of the research program of the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI).
The event centered around presentations by renowned experts from Germany, the USA, Canada, France, UK, Scotland and Japan. Among other things, they looked at how human intestinal cells and the intestinal microbiome interact with each other in healthy and diseased states, what influence nutrition has on them, and what researchers can learn about intestinal diseases with the help of so-called organoids – tissue spheres of intestinal cells grown in the laboratory that replicate the intestine on a small scale.
Intestinal bacteria and the metabolites they produce or process have a major impact on health and disease – especially in relation to chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We already know that the composition of the intestinal microbiome is different in IBD patients than in healthy people. The diversity, in this case the variety of microbes, is reduced in comparison. The composition of metabolites that these microorganisms produce or process is also altered. As Kiel’s researchers from miTarget have found out, these changes can already be recognized years before the actual IBD diagnosis. They are studying the changes more closely in the research group and are looking for certain patterns within them that are specific to the development of chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
"Since the start of funding, we have already gained more detailed insights into the mechanisms of disease development. At our international symposium, we were able to gain new valuable impulses for our work through the exchange with other experts from this field," says Professor Andre Franke, spokesperson of the DFG research group miTarget, Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB), CAU and UKSH, and steering committee member of the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation".
On Friday, June 16, the symposium will be followed by the "Junior Researcher Day" for miTarget's young researchers. The event is entitled "Develop & preserve your professional potential" and offers various workshops by career coaches and mentors. "It is becoming increasingly important for young researchers to be aware of their own strengths and to be able to use them for their scientific careers. With our Junior Research Day, we want to specifically support miTarget's young researchers in this regard," explains Irene Bermúdez-Pérez, one of the organizers of the event.
The DFG (German Research Foundation) is funding miTarget from the start of 2020 to the end of 2023 with a total of seven million euros. Coordinator and spokesperson is Professor Andre Franke, Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKBM) at Kiel University (CAU) and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), and board member of the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI). It mainly involves scientists from the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (CAU and UKSH), along with the University of Lübeck, the Research Center Borstel and the Max Planck Institute in Plön.
Professor Andre Franke
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB), CAU, UKSH
About the Cluster of Excellence PMI
The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI) is being funded from 2019 to 2025 through the German Excellence Strategy (ExStra). It succeeds the "Inflammation at Interfaces” Cluster, which was already funded in two periods of the Excellence Initiative (2007-2018). Around 300 members from eight institutions at four locations are involved: Kiel (Kiel University, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)), Lübeck (University of Lübeck, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)), Plön (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology) and Borstel (Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center).
The goal is to translate interdisciplinary research findings on chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs to healthcare more intensively, as well as to fulfil previously unsatisfied needs of the patients. Three points are important in the context of successful treatment, and are therefore at the heart of PMI research: the early detection of chronic inflammatory diseases, the prediction of disease progression and complications, and the prediction of individual responses to treatment.