Current Projects

2016-ongoing

Grant awarded: £488,040

Timescale: 3 years 

 

The Urinary Microbiome and its Relation to Morbidity in Older People
 

Urinary symptoms and signs in the elderly are closely associated to frailty, delirium and distress, but our understanding of the relationship of the urinary flora and morbidity is currently very limited, leading to overtreatment with antibiotics. This study has the potential to re-write text books, which have propagated a false dogma that the urine is sterile, and create the first step to understanding the implications for the host of different urinary patterns of microbes.  First cataloguing the populations of microbes in older people is essential at this stage of the science, to generate hypotheses that would be testable experimentally.  In the shorter term, easy-to-obtain mid stream urine analysis could also be used to stratify management of older adults. 

2014-2017

Grant awarded: £315,000

Timescale: 3 years

 

The role of the gut microbiome in cognitive decline and risk for dementia.

 

The aim of this three-year project is to explore patterns of human faecal microbiome with cognitive performance and decline in older adults, utitizing up to 900 older twins studied longitudinally to control for host and family influences and explore metabolic mechanisms

2016-ongoing

Grant awarded: £9,917.14

Timescale: 3 years

 

Biotwincot – Biology of twins from conception to toddler
 

Foetal programming – the adaptive responses of the foetus to a variety of environmental cues, and consequences of mismatch between the prenatal and postnatal environments – can permanently shape the body’s structure, function, and metabolism and contribute to adult disease. The influence of the microbiome – the microorganisms living in and on a mammalian host - and how it is acquired in humans is poorly understood. 

 

This project addresses this deficiency by studying the human microbiome longitudinally during early development, from the earliest possible time during pregnancy, using nature’s controlled experiment, twins. The project aims to pilot collection of microbiome and additional biological samples from 10 mothers and twin-pairs at four time-points during the first year of life, to assess the feasibility to support a major project of this kind.

2017 – ongoing

Grant awarded: £148,422

Timescale: 4 years 6 months

 

Exploring the cardio-metabolic health-associated with the faecal metabolome.

 

The goal of this project is to increase our understanding of how molecules produced by microbes influence our health.   This study aims to identify the biochemical signature of cardio-metabolic health in the faecal metabolome and to determine its links with diet, the gut microbiome and host genetics. An understanding of these links offers a unique target for intervention to prevent and reverse chronic disease. This is a totally novel proposal and we are the first group in the world to use faecal metabolites as health indicators.

2017 – ongoing

Grant awarded: £155,234

Timescale: 3 years

 

Utilising omega 3 and fibre to improve metabolic health: a proof of concept nutritional intervention study targeting the gut microbiome.

 

The growing importance of the gut microbiota in all aspects of human health is clear.  Unlike our genomes, this is potentially highly modifiable and tightly related to metabolic and immune efficiency, energy and fatty acid metabolism, and satiety hormones. We have recently shown that serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids correlate with higher microbiome diversity, and are linked to lower inflammation of the gut. The study will measure faecal metabolites relevant to fatty acid metabolism (short chain fatty acids) and the abundance of microbial species linked to higher or lower inflammation and immune cell phenotypes, to unravel the link between inflammation, diet and metabolic syndrome. There is a real lack of good diet intervention studies in this field and if successful this trial will pave the way to funding a wide variety of other diet intervention studies. 

2017 – ongoing

Grant awarded: £87,844

Timescale: 3 years

 

A statistical framework for personalised nutrition recommendations based on genetic and anthropometric date.

 

This project will explore the genetic influences on healthy diet, impact on disease and ageing.  The intended outcome is the identification of patterns in the genome which can predict responses to diet to improve health.  The study will investigate the relationship between genetic factors, dietary habits, anthropometric traits and cardio-metabolic traits, with the aim of proposing personalised nutrition recommendations and minimising the risk of obesity.

2018 – ongoing

Grant awarded: £147,494

Timescale: 2 years 3 months

 

Gut microbiome modulation of fasting glucose homeostasis and postprandial glycaemic response in TwinsUk and PREDICT: towards personalised diet for healthy aging.

 

This highly novel study will pioneer the identification of a personalised diet specific to an individual’s microbiome and responses to diet, using a bioinformatics approach.  Insulin resistance is highly prevalent worldwide and has strong associations with many age-related conditions. There is also evidence that age and decreased diversity and increased fragility of the gut microbiome, play an important role in insulin resistance. Preventive strategies have focused on general dietary guidelines, to reduce caloric intake or focus on the glycaemic index of food. The glycaemic response to food shows high variability between individuals and the microbiome is now recognised as a crucial element explaining this personal uniqueness. This study aims to identify bacterial species and pathways involved in fasting and postprandial glucose homeostasis and how they interact with diet and age. Our results will help to design personalized dietary guidelines and interventions aimed to prevent insulin resistance based on the individual’s age and on their gut bacterial community. 

2018 – ongoing

Grant awarded: £149,999

Timescale: 4 years

 

Influence of the gut microbiome on inter-individual differences in blood pressure at fasting and in response to a combined glycaemic and lipaemic test meal challenge.

 

The object of this study is to assess the relationship between the gut microbiome, fasting and post-prandial blood pressure (BP). The study aims to identify bacterial species and pathways involved in this process using ambulatory BP measures and to assess how they interact with diet and age. The goal is to design personalised dietary guidelines and interventions aimed at treating and preventing hypertension based on the composition of the individual's gut microbiome. 

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