PROMISE project kick-off: preventing Type 2 Diabetes through microbes

The EU-funded PROMISE project kicked off on May 7th 2018, marking the start of the 36-month concerted action of four European partners against Type 2 Diabetes. IBBL counts among the members of the consortium and will be contributing to the validation of diagnostic biomarkers, thanks to its expertise in biomarker validation.

The Eurostars-funded PROMISE was officially launched on May 7th in Eindhoven (The Netherlands), bringing together Amsterdam-based biotech company Caelus Health, ProDigest — a Belgian producer of laboratory models of the human gastrointestinal tract — the Dutch independent genomics service laboratory BaseClear and IBBL. Through this collaboration, the consortium aims to develop a novel microbiota-based therapy for the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM).

Specifically, the innovative treatment to be devised under the project will be based on the anaerobic human bacterium Eubacterium hallii, identified by Caelus Health as having the ability to increase insulin sensitivity in individuals that have been diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) – a cluster of metabolic risk factors such as obesity and elevated blood sugar that occur together and increase the risk of developing T2DM. The bacterium could reduce insulin resistance and therefore prevent the onset of T2DM in MetS patients.

One of the objectives of the project will be to further elucidate the mechanism underlying the action of E. hallii. To this end, innovative in vitro methods are being developed by ProDigest to support the study of the influence of E. hallii on the gut microbiota. Such in vitro models allow to gain a unique insight into gut processes and analyse the entirety of the gut flora under controlled conditions.

Moreover, the project entails the discovery of surrogate biomarkers for the early diagnosis of MetS, for which IBBL’s experience will prove to be an asset. Indeed, IBBL will be in charge of the validation of such biomarkers which, in case of successful validation, will progress further in the biomarker development value chain. The ultimate goal for such biomarkers is to be used for clinical research.

Finally, PROMISE encompasses a clinical study that will adopt a novel approach seeking to improve the treatment of MetS and set new standards for performing (pre)clinical studies in other conditions involving a microbial therapy in stratified target groups. BaseClear will assist in developing innovative methods for performing clinical research, including both logistics and patient selection.

“Our consortium is a perfect combination of research institutes and innovative, market-oriented SMEs, which is essential if we want to deliver a truly marketable product”, states Dr. Kristin Kornerup, PROMISE project manager at IBBL. “There are currently no reliable biomarkers for the early diagnosis of MetS”, explains Dr. Monica Marchese, Biomarker Validation Scientist at IBBL. “IBBL’s dedicated biomarker validation team will work towards this purpose to deliver on…our PROMISE!”, she adds brightly.

For more information on PROMISE, visit the dedicated page.