Intestinal fungi close-up: links with bowel diseases

Intestinal Yeasts associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (YBD/S)

YBD/S studies the impact of fecal yeasts diversity on bowel diseases in a new public-private partnership involving the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Tytgat Institute for Liver and Intestinal Research, QVQ Holding B.V. and CBMR Scientific B.V.

This study focuses on chronic intestinal diseases, in this context being Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In 2017, IBD affected 6.8 million people globally. In the Netherlands, about 1 in 200 people suffers from IBD. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), characterised by frequent abdominal pain, is the most frequent functional gastrointestinal disorder worldwide, affecting 2 million people in the Netherlands only. Patients often experience pain as debilitating, leading to high economic and healthcare costs.

Although IBD and IBS have a multifactorial nature, recent investigations have pointed towards a prominent role of intestinal fungi including the yeasts Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Altered fungal communities have been described for both IBD and IBS, compared to healthy controls. However, yeasts themselves also contain genetic variation. The altered genetic composition leads to different behaviours such as interactions with intestinal cells. This project will study genetic and phenotypic variation of these intestinal yeasts, and evaluate their sensitivity to antimicrobial compounds.

The consortium foresees that YBD/S results in a better understanding of yeast diversity with respect to IBD and IBS. In addition, they hope to find potential novel probiotic treatment leads that could improve the quality of life of the many people suffering from the chronic gut disorders IBS and IBD through probiotic or prebiotic interactions.

Yeasts are natural inhabitants of everyone’s intestine, which may be linked to disease such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. We plan to determine the variation among these yeasts and test the potential of novel drugs such as essential plant oils and antimicrobial peptides.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
1 - 4
Time period
12 months