Introduction to the Project

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) is a condition in which the body cannot absorb enough fluids and nutrients (intestinal failure – IF). It generally occurs with loss of approximately ≥70% of small intestinal length due to surgical removal, injury or a birth defect (congenital defect). Such conditions render the gut of many children and adults incapable of sustaining its nutritional function (intestinal failure) due to insufficient surface area. As a result, patients may suffer from symptoms such as malnutrition, diarrhoea and dehydration. In addition, patients with short bowel syndrome build up oxalate due to lack of absorptive capacity from the bowel, which at elevated cause damage to the kidneys. SBS accordingly is associated with significant morbidity, financial cost and mortality.

Even though a considerable amount of knowledge has been generated during the recent years, SBS still lacks a therapeutic solution despite being a chronic and life threatening condition. The only current alternative option is small bowel transplant, which is in any case limited due to scarcity of donor organs and problematic by the need for aggressive lifelong immunosuppression.

Given this situation, INTENS aims to achieve a therapeutic strategy by engineering donor-specific intestines, which is now a realistic possibility given recent significant advances in biomaterial science, bioreactor technology, cell and molecular biology including cell characterisation, isolation and expansion, as well as the development of novel surgical techniques.

Therefore, the main goals of INTENS can be listed as follows:

  • Identifying the best analogous cell source
  • Providing the ideal scaffold
  • Engineering intestine for transplantation
  • Applying for orphan designation
  • Engaging with patients, scientific and public

Key figures about the project:

  • Start date: 01/01/2016
  • Duration: 72 months
  • EU contribution: 5,990,464 €
  • Call reference: H2020-PHC-2015-two-stage, New therapies for rare diseases, Grant agreement no 668294