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 APC researcher awarded Global Grant for Gut Health

APC Microbiome Ireland’s Dr Niall Hyland  has been awarded a €100,000 Global Grant for Gut Health by Nature Research and Yakult to advance insight into how gut bacteria affect medications for depression and anxiety. One of two awardees, Niall beat a field of nearly 200 international applicants.  

Individuals respond to medications in different ways and it appears that each person’s microbiome may play a significant role in how drugs are absorbed and metabolized by the body. Recent research has shown that a person’s microbiome affects her/his response to chemotherapy and other medications e.g. for Parkinson’s Disease.  As a pharmacologist, Niall is particularly interested in how the microbiome affects the ability of individuals to respond to anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.

If depression has a knock-on effect on the microbiome and can generate gut-related disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), how might depression affect the ability to process anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs?  The researcher will analyse the gut bacterial communities and enzymatic activities in patients with depression prior to treatment with medication and then analyse drug responses. The pharmacokinetic results will then be used to build a computer model to predict how patients might respond to specific drugs based on the composition of their microbiomes.  We hope that it will enhance the efficacy of treatment and increase patient compliance.

Niall, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physiology at University College Cork, will work closely with  colleagues at APC Microbiome Ireland, including Dr Gerard Clarke and Prof Ted Dinan in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Dr Brendan Griffin in the School of Pharmacy.