Molecular Mechanisms from the Human Microbiota

Nearly every location in our body is inhabited by large numbers of benign micro-organisms. We have learned that they contribute to our daily lives, helping out with food digestion, vitamin production and protection from disease-causing pathogens. The Claesen group is zooming in all the way to the molecular level, in order to discover the mechanisms that distinguish a healthy from a diseased microbiome. When we better understand what our bacterial companions are doing, we will be able to develop this knowledge into specific therapies.


Further reading:
Wollenberg, et al. (2014)

Mining of Biosynthetic Gene Clusters for New Drugs


Bacteria are excellent chemists, capable of producing various molecules we can use as antibiotics, immunomodulators and anticancer agents. The capacity to make these molecules is encoded within specific gene clusters in the bacterial DNA. The Claesen group is using computer-predictions to identify clusters for new drugs candidates. Cloning and expression of these clusters in well-characterised bacteria leads to the characterisation of the active compounds.

Further reading:
Cimermancic, et al. (2014)
Claesen and Bibb (2010)

Applied Bacterial Genetics and Synthetic Biology

Molecular genetics provides a powerful instrument to investigate the biology of an organism. Unfortunately, robust genetic systems are only available for a handful of bacterial model organisms and pathogens. The Claesen group is developing genetic tools for important, benign human-associated bacteria. These will be used to unravel fundamental biological concepts, and by applying recent synthetic biology techniques they will be further developed as drug-delivery devices.


Further reading:
Claesen and Fischbach (2015)
Smanski, et al. (2016)


Combining Genetics and Biochemistry to Study and Engineer the Human Microbiome