Thomas Vogl receives ’Global Grant for Gut Health’

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(c) MedUni Wien/feelimage
(c) MedUni Wien/feelimage

Thomas Vogl’s research team at MedUni Vienna’s Center for Cancer Research aims to identify biomarkers in the gut microbiome that are associated with Long COVID. The "Global Grant for Gut Health", awarded by Yakult and Nature Portfolio, is now supporting them in this endeavour.

"If we succeed in finding biomarkers that both indicate a person’s risk of Long COVID and represent therapeutic targets against the disease, this could significantly improve our ability to treat and perhaps even prevent Long COVID in the future," says Thomas Vogl, summarising the importance of the research work.

As part of This will involve profiling antibody responses against 357,000 microbiotic and viral antigens in 800 patients with COVID and long-COVID respectively.

To obtain the necessary data, the team is working with researchers from the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands. There, blood samples were collected both from people after a SARS-CoV-2 infection (the COVID-HOME cohort) and from the general population over a period of 15 years (the Lifelines cohort). The Lifelines project dates back to before the pandemic, "and we know of at least 600 people in this cohort who have developed long-COVID since then," says Thomas Vogl: "This gives us a unique opportunity to measure antibodies from samples taken before and after COVID infection." This allows the differences in the composition of the intestinal microbes as well as the microbial activity and interaction with the immune system to be determined. Samples from patients who have contracted COVID-19 but have not developed long-COVID are also analysed to identify biomarkers for long-COVID.

About the person:

Thomas Vogl holds a PhD in molecular biomedical sciences and biotechnology from the Technical University of Graz, Austria. After initially working mainly on molecular biology experiments in the "wet lab", he focused on bioinformatics and machine learning as a postdoc in Australia and Israel. During his work at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Vogl used robotic liquid handling pipelines to generate large data sets on the interplay between the human immune system and the microbiome. In August 2022, he became group leader at the Medical University of Vienna and recently took up a tenure-track assistant professorship. Thomas Vogl has published several papers on the microbiota-immune axis and is coordinator of the EU Horizon Health consortium ID-DarkMatter-NCD.