People can only ingest food through the oral cavity, and oral administration remains the preferred route for the delivery of drugs or dietary supplements. However, orally ingested compounds must first survive digestion and then be absorbed at the small intestine to reach the systemic circulation. This proposal aims to develop and fabricate the first automated microfluidics-based device for complete simulation of the processes of digestion and intestinal absorption of orally ingested bioactive compounds. The innovation lies on the capacity to simulate the process in full and, on the introduction of integrated sensors for online, real-time monitoring of the pH, barrier integrity, intestinal permeation and cellular responses. In addition, the use of primary cells will allow to create disease models and patient-specific tissues for personalised medicine. Co-cultures with the gut microbiome will allow to assess the effect of the ingested compounds on commensal bacteria and of the latter in nutrient digestion. The work will be conducted at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal, with two secondments projected at the University of Southampton for 4 months, and intersectorally at GlaxoSmithKline, in Stevenage, UK for 2 months. The device will offer the possibility to study minute sample amounts, with high resolution and with the potential for high-throughput analysis, which is key for its adoption by large pharmaceutical and food industries with high economic and social impact. The proposal aligns with the societal challenges 1 (Health, demographic change and wellbeing) and 2 (Food security) of the current Horizon 2020 work programme. The work is multidisciplinary and the combination of learning through research and a comprehensive training plan will strongly improve the applicant's researcher profile and career prospects.
Field of science
- /engineering and technology/other engineering and technologies/food and beverages/food safety
Call for proposal
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