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MicroTher: Drug Discovery from the Microbiota

Project description

A novel postbiotic for the treatment of intestinal inflammation

The intestinal mucosal membrane physically separates the lumen from the intestinal epithelium, serving as the first line of defence against microbial infiltration. Dysfunction of this membrane leads to inflammation that can give rise to metabolic syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. The EU-funded MicroTher project extends on previous work of the FUNMETA project on the indole-3-aldehyde (3-IAld) postbiotic. 3-IAld is a tryptophan metabolite of microbial origin with a reported capacity to repair damaged intestinal epithelium in animal models. MicroTher is investigating the potential of this compound to be used as a clinical intervention in epithelial barrier dysfunction leading to metabolic syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.


The rapid increase in the prevalence of diseases caused by the disruption of the intestinal epithelium, also known as leaky gut syndrome, is a global cause for concern. Metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), two disease indications that occur as a result of a compromised intestinal mucosal membrane, collectively effect over 235 million people globally. In a healthy gut, the epithelial lining is tightly aligned to form a structurally robust barrier between the outside and the inside of the body. When this lining is compromised, immunogenic compounds such as bacterial endotoxins can infiltrate the body, causing systemic and local inflammation, resulting in diseases such as MetSyn and IBS. Through our ERC Advanced project FUNMETA, we have identified the ‘postbiotic’ molecule, indole-3-aldehyde (IAld), to be critical in the maintenance and restoration of intestinal epithelial integrity. Preliminary data already indicates the ability of IAld to repair damaged intestinal epithelium and to modulate symptoms of MetSyn and IBS in animal models. As these two indications are not only burdened by high prevalence rates, but also by ineffective or expensive treatments, there is strong potential in the clinical adoption of IAld. Therefore, the main aim of MicroTher is to further assess the clinical and commercial feasibility of IAld as a pharmaceutical agent.



Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
Piazza dell universita 1
06123 Perugia

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Centro (IT) Umbria Perugia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)