Funding for three collaborative research projects by the Personalised Medicine Consortium
The Personalised Medicine Consortium (PMC), composed of the national biomedical research institutions, aims to build new collaborations and foster synergies between clinicians and researchers from Luxembourg. The annual meeting of the PMC was organised on 9th December 2016 in the premises of the Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) in Dudelange, and at this occasion three new research projects led by LIH were announced as being selected for pump prime funding.
Around 60 researchers from the three PMC-related institutions - LIH, IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg) and LCSB (Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, University of Luxembourg) - and from the LNS gathered for the PMC meeting to present their technological infrastructure and discuss ongoing collaborative research projects.
The project “Dietary fibre-deprived gut microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease”, shortly “Die-IBD”, will be led by Dr Mahesh Desai, Principal Investigator at LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract that is difficult to treat. The deficiency of dietary fibre disturbs the metabolism of the gut microbiome which is thought to contribute to the development of IBD. Dr Desai and his collaboration partners aim to set up experiments with mouse models that could shed light on the role of diet in the pathogenesis of IBD and may help to design dietary therapeutic strategies to combat the disease. IBBL will be involved in the project by performing ribosomal RNA sequencing to characterise the microbial populations in faecal samples.
Another funded project is “ESPoiRe”, standing for “Epigenetic stratification towards personalised care in rheumatoid arthritis”. Initiated by Dr Jonathan Turner, Principal Investigator at LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity, this research project will investigate the role for epigenetic DNA methylation in the development and pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disease affecting up to 1% of the population in developed countries. Dr Turner and his collaboration partners hypothesise that DNA methylation markers could be used to stratify RA patients at their initial diagnosis. To test this, the epigenomes of 70 RA patients will be analysed. Patient samples will be handled and stored by IBBL, and integrated systems-based analysis of the epigenetic data will be performed at LCSB.
The project “A multi-omics based single-cell strategy to overcome therapy-driven resistance in glioblastoma: an entry-point for personalised treatment”, “SCellOmics” in short, was successfully submitted by Prof Simone Niclou, Head of the NorLux Neuro-Oncology Laboratory at LIH’s Department of Oncology. Glioblastomas are malignant brain tumours that present a high genetic heterogeneity and rapidly develop resistance to anti-cancer treatment. Molecular characterisation of primary and recurrent glioblastomas represents a first step towards understanding therapy resistance. The funded project aims to analyse patient tumour biopsies at a single-cell level with multi-omics to reveal genetic and transcriptomic identities contributing to disease progression and therapy-related resistance. In addition, pre-clinical personalised treatment approaches will be tested that can overcome resistance associated with tumour heterogeneity. This project is based on an ongoing collaboration with LCSB where single cell sequencing has been established. IBBL will develop optimal conditions for single cell storage.