Dr Xiaodong Ren

Xiaodong Ren 200x200

Dr Xiaodong Ren

Wen-Wu Li 160x200

Dr Wen-Wu Li

Biotransformation of anticancer and antimalarial plant-derived alkaloids by gut microbiota


Dr Xiaodong Ren will join us from the School of Life Science, Jilin University, and Changchun for three months from June-September 2019. During his fellowship he will be hosted by Dr Wen-Wu Li in the School of Medicine and the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Xiaodong and Wen-Wu will be working on their joint proposal; Biotransformation of anticancer and antimalarial plant-derived alkaloids by gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract is considered to be a ‘hidden organ’. It hosts a complex and diverse community of trillions of microorganisms with more than one thousand kinds of bacteria and archaea. There is increasing evidence that these gut microbes can generate metabolites which possess novel features and bioactivities which have a wide range of potential health and pharmaceutical applications. Research suggests that they may be linked to colonization resistance, have impacts upon the immune system, the synthesis of nutrients, and the digestion of polysaccharides.

Dr Li’s research group at Keele work on plant-derived bisbenzylisoquinoline (BBIQ) alkaloids such as tetrandrine and cycleanine which have been reported to exhibit various biological and pharmacological activities; for example antimalarial, anti-cancer and anti-leishmanial effects. Despite the importance of these alkaloids for the treatment of cancer and malaria, their interaction with the gut microbiota and the biological activities of their metabolites are unknown.

This fellowship collaboration will bring together these different areas of knowledge and expertise. It will focus on transforming BBIQ alkaloids using gut microbiomes and on identifying and evaluating the anticancer and antimalarial activities of their metabolites.

Dr Ren is an associate professor in the School of Life Science at Jilin which is where he undertook his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dr Ren and Dr Li are keen to engage colleagues across the university in exploring these questions. If you would like to know more about the plans for Dr Ren’s fellowship and would like to meet him during his visit to Keele, please contact Jo Flynn.