On September 20th 2021, Renee Schreurs, postdoctoral researcher in GUTVIBRATIONS received a grant of €30,000 euros from Stichting Steun Emma Kinderziekenhuis (Emma Children’s Hospital Support Foundation) Amsterdam to investigate the impact of breastmilk-derived extracellular vesicles on intestinal barrier integrity as a potential cure to treat intestinal inflammatory disease in prematurely born infants.

“I am very happy about receiving this grant. I am looking forward to doing work in early-life intestinal immunity with Hans van Goudoever (supervisor during my PhD) and my current supervisor, Carla Ribeiro” Renee Schreurs said.

Using Organoids to Develop Treatments Against Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Premature born infants are at risk to develop severe intestinal inflammation, known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). Human breast milk is a potent strategy to prevent NEC in premature infants as it contains numerous components including extracellular vesicles (EVs), nano-sized particles that are naturally secreted by all cells in the body. Human milk EVs are interesting as they have shown to have wound healing capabilities, therefore playing role in protecting and healing the inflamed intestine.

Recent technological advances allows the isolation of EVs from human milk. Additionally, GUTVIBRATIONS partners have recently developed a protocol to develop human gut organoids in the lab. In this research project, Renee and her team will combine these two technologies and investigate whether human milk-derived EVs can protect and heal the premature intestine. Ultimately, findings on the functional impact of human milk EVs on intestinal integrity may lead to the development of new therapies to prevent or treat NEC. 

The Team

This research project will involve the Autophagy-directed Immunity group (Experimental Immunology at the AMC), The Dutch Human Milk Bank & Emma Children’s Hospital, and Amsterdam Vesicle Observation Center (Experimental Clinical Chemistry).