During my PhD research at Ghent University I studied the interaction between bacteriophages and the human immune response. It is known that the oral administration of phages to animals results in the translocation of phages to systemic tissues, whereby phages are able to cross cell monolayers. This suggests that mammals have mechanisms for the uptake and delivery of phages that may allow intestinal phages to elicit innate and adaptive immune responses.
If phages are present everywhere, the question can be asked whether they interact with our immune system. More specifically do they have anti-inflammatory properties. Otherwise how can they work systemically? These are questions I was trying to answer during my PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Mario Vaneechoutte and Prof. Rob Lavigne. We found that our studied phage have indications that they induce an immune response. Not only do the phages that we studied induce pro-inflammatory properties, we have indications that they might induce anti-inflammatory responses as well.
During my research I developed a profound interest in phage biology and phage therapy, more specifically in the interaction between phages and the mammalian host. I’m amazed by the possibilities of science, and fascinated by what is still to be discovered.
I'm looking forward to further elucidate the interaction of phages with the human immune response, and the potential impacts this could have on phage therapy or human health.
Doctor of Science, Universiteit Gent (2017)