Where Ideas Grow

GlycanTrigger launch event

The project Glycan Trigger, coordinated by Salomé Pinho, is officially launching with a kickoff meeting taking place in Porto on 13-14 March.

Funded with seven million euros by the European Commission's Horizon Europe Program in the scope of Research and Innovation Actions, the project is focused on studying what happens between a symptom-free phase and the Crohn's Disease diagnosis. There is evidence of the existence of a pre-clinical phase, asymptomatic, characterized by immunological alterations at the level of the intestinal mucosa that precede the symptoms, so this project is set on understanding the specific mechanisms that lead to intestinal inflammation. Therefore, GlycanTrigger is addressing how changes in the composition of glycans (sugar-chains) exposed at the surface of the gut mucosa (the gut glycome), act as a primary event that dysregulates local and systemic mechanisms leading to inflammation. The team is studying how those changes can start a chain reaction that leads to intestinal inflammation. GlycanTrigger is exploring the novel concept of “glycan mimicry”, i.e., the idea that some molecules can imitate or resemble the sugar code (the glycome) found in our body and trick our immune system, ultimately causing inflammation in the digestive system.

Inflammatory bowel diseases include two idiopathic and incurable diseases — Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — characterized by an uncontrolled inflammation of the digestive tract. GlycanTrigger is testing an innovative hypothesis in which changes in the glycome composition in the gut lead to imbalances in bacteria composition (the microbiome) and in gut immunity which ultimately cause a shift from health to inflammation. The project aims at understanding whether this glycan-shift could be an early event that triggers inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases. Additionally, it envisions a new strategy for predicting and preventing inflammatory bowel diseases.

The project GlycanTrigger will last 6 years and gathers 9 partners from 7 different EU and non-EU countries. It started in January 2023 and, besides coordinator i3S, the following institutions are partners in the GlycanTrigger project: Hospital da Luz – Lisbon, Portugal; Sorbonne University – Paris, France; Charité – Berlin, Germany; Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) – Leiden, The Netherlands; Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NYC, USA; Ludger company - Oxford, UK; European Federation of Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA) – Belgium; and Portuguese Innovation Society (SPI) – Portugal.


This project is funded by the European Union under Grant Agreement no. 101093997. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.