Call for partners: Virtual immune cell simulation model for precision nutrition-related healthier ageing

This initiative from the Human Nutrition Department aims to build a virtual model of an immune cell that is able to identify immune subgroups and simulate consequences of dietary strategies for healthier ageing.

A disturbed immune function is the basis for several diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes type II and cardiovascular diseases. Nutrition is an often investigated strategy to improve immune function but with limited success due to the high variation in response between individuals. The variation in immune function of individuals maybe the underlying cause for success of a dietary intervention. This personal variation in immune function hampers the development of dietary strategies and food products that are effective in improving immune health and promote healthy ageing.

Project approach

In this project, we will build a virtual immune cell in which we are able to classify people into immune health groups and simulate the effect of dietary interventions on their immune function. In the last decade we have performed several dietary intervention studies in which the effect of diet on immune cells has been comprehensively characterized using omics strategies and functional assays in people at risk for developing cardiometabolic diseases and in an ageing population. The data collected in these intervention studies will be used to build the virtual immune cell using ‘state of the art’ computational modelling techniques. This virtual immune cell simulation model can be used to identify which people can profit the most of a dietary intervention or to identify which food products/nutrients maybe most promising in improving immune function and healthier ageing. The building of this model does not require additional studies as enough data is available within the universities to build the model.

The budget for this proposal is estimated to be 450k Euro. The above described projects are being developed for application to the TKI subsidy, a Dutch governmental program sponsoring applied research. Aiming for 2-3 partners each 16.7-25k€annually cash and 8.3-12.5 and 22,5k€ in kind contribution. Granted projects receive 50% subsidy funding. The other 50% is contributed by industry partners, of which up to half (25% of total) may be in-kind.

This consortium is open for participation from ingredient companies and food companies. In return for in-cash and in-kind contributions to the project, partners can specify desired topics for research, and provide direction to the research activities. Unfortunately we are not able to reply to solicitations from research institutes or enquiries from students related to this project.