EU grant for study of drug uptake in the intestine

10 January 2020

Christel Bergström, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics, has been awarded a prestigious proof-of-concept (PoC) grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for the project DINAMIC, studying how drugs are taken up in the intestine. The grant will enable the project to take scientific results closer to commercialisation.

Christel Bergström, Associate Professor of
Pharmaceutics. Photo: David Naylor

Uppsala University has won the prestigious grant in international competition. In total, 76 top researchers receive ERC proof-of-concept grants in this round and Christel Bergström is the only researcher at a Swedish university. The grant is EUR 150,000.

Oral administration of drugs is the method of choice for patients and healthcare providers alike because it is both convenient and inexpensive. Most drug candidates need advanced formulation strategies to allow them to be developed as tablets or capsules.

One approach is to make use of lipids. To date only about 4% of commercial drug products involve formulations using lipids. This is partly because it is difficult to characterise performance after oral intake using simple lab-bench models and extensive animal studies are needed to identify which product is best.

In an ongoing ERC project, Bergström and her colleagues have developed a device to simultaneously assess digestion and uptake of drugs formulated with lipids.

In the DINAMIC project, a small-scale lab-bench intestine based on simulated intestinal fluids with digestive capability combined with cell-based models will be explored for its potential role in the pharma and biotech industry. The technical and commercial feasibility of the device will be assessed, including development of a prototype that meets the needs of target customers, as well as the commercial proof-of-concept identifying the best route for commercialisation.





Facts about ERC

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best creative researchers, of any nationality and age, to run projects in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to work in Europe. To date, the ERC has funded around 9,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants.