GROWTH is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network that will train 8 Early Stage Researchers and tackle present challenges and develop effective solutions for early detection of disease and development of new dietary interventions for the prevention of intestinal failure in preterm infants and colitis later in life.
GROWTH network links 4 non-academic partners, of which 5 internationally operating non-academic entities, and 5 esteemed university medical centers from 4 European countries:
Early life nutrition is critical for healthy development. Breastfeeding improves survival, health, and development of all children. However, breastfeeding is no longer a norm in many communities. Findings from epidemiological studies substantiate the fact that the decision to not breastfeed a child has major long-term effects on the health, nutrition and development of the child and on women’s health. In the past two decades it is demonstrated that crucial programming events that are modulated during breastfeeding can have protective lifelong effects for the infant. These events might be mediated directly by or through effects on the infant microbiome. The ability of the microbiome to regulate host responses in infancy depends on individual bacterial species, immune regulation and metabolic responses.
The interplay between nutrition, gut microbiota, and its large number of metabolic and immune mediators plays an essential role in the development of gut immune homeostasis in early life. This interaction needs to be better understood because a disturbed immune function in the neonatal period is harmful for neonatal survival and enhances the risk of chronic inflammatory disease later in life. In particular, preterm infants are at risk because of their immature gut and an associated intestinal state of dysbiosis, due to repeated administration of antibiotics as part of routine clinical practice following preterm birth.
Therefore, for the first time, GROWTH integrates experts in (paediatric) gastroenterology, surgery, immunology, nutrition science, organ-on-a-chip model systems and 'omics technologies to train 8 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) scientists in the industry-led exploration of innovative routes exploiting the full potential of early life nutrition to prevent disease. This will pave the way for personalized medicine through effective solutions for early detection of disease and development of new dietary interventions for the prevention of intestinal failure in preterm infants and colitis later in life.
The duration of the programme is 48 months, consisting of 8 individual research projects of 36 monhs each. The GROWTH programme started on 1 June 2019.