The Breathing Gut


Christian Cornelissen


Christian Cornelissen

Scientific Head



In Europe, at least 6% of the population suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and often develop chronic hypercapnic respiratory insufficiency as the end stage of their disease. Retention of CO2 leads to systemic acidosis with a 90% chance of death within 5 years. These critically ill patients suffer from permanent respiratory distress, which is associated with a significantly reduced quality of life. Currently, the therapy consists of permanent non-invasive ventilation via a mask, which significantly restricts the patients' mobility and social participation (private and professional).

In the search for a simple alternative to non-invasive ventilation, which is complex in its application and restrictive for the patient, the question arises: which natural exchange surface in the human body can take over part of the carbon dioxide elimination? In this regard, the experience of endoscopy shows that the intestine, with a surface area of 240 m2 and a blood flow of 1 - 2 liters / minute, represents a good CO2 exchange capacity. In numerous preliminary studies, we were able to show in vitro that various substances in specifically encapsulated formulations have the potential to bind CO2 in relevant amounts enterally.

Therefore, the subject of this project is the in vitro validation of enteral CO2 elimination using the CO2R drink described in patent application EP18000676.9. To this end, an animal model of hypercapnic respiratory insufficiency is first validated over a period of 24 hours in the sense of a control group. The standard intensive care procedure of permissive hypercapnia is used to induce carbon dioxide retention under general anesthesia by hypoventilation. After validation in 5 animals, the CO2R drink will be tested in 2 intervention groups with different formulations (n=5 per group).


This project is funded by:

This project is funded by: European Regional Development Fund EFRE.NRW