Dennis Sandris Nielsen, associate professor of food microbiology at the University of Copenhagen, received 6,293,061 Danish krone (€84,600) for the PhageGut project.
Professor Nielsen and his team will be working with the hypothesis that phages – naturally occurring viruses that attack bacteria – can be used to manipulate intestinal flora composition and that a deeper understanding of this interaction will lead to new ways to control gut flora.
They will use obese mice as a model to show how phages could be used in early life to ‘push’ flora from an obesity-associated composition to one associated with normal weight.
They will use combinations of certain phages isolated from normal weight mice to make this change.
Overall the DFF awarded 565m kr (€76m) to 164 different projects it thought had the potential to “improve our lives and lifestyle”.
The phages fashion
There has been mounting interest in the role of phages, also known as bacteriophages.
In May the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $100,000 (€89,485) research grant to the University College Cork in Ireland to explore how phages may influence the balance of ‘good bacteria’ like Bifidobacteria and potentially fight harmful bacteria such as enterotoxigenic E.coli (ETEC) and Shigella in children in developing countries.