Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gut bacteria transplants can restore your health

By : Noubar AfeyanMar 14th 2014
Can you give an overview of what "microbiome-based" healthcare is?
About seven years ago, the tools that were first used to sequence the human genome were used to begin large-scale sequencing of the microorganisms in our guts and other parts of the body. That work soon indicated intriguing differences between people. For example, the collection of organisms prevalent in the guts of obese people was quite different to that within lean people, though it was not clear what was causal and what was correlative. In the past few years, more specific research has looked at the functional role these organism collections play.
Recent press attention has focused on a medical procedure called fecal microbial transplant (FMT). It has been used to treat infections of Clostridium difficile, which can be acquired through hospitalization and heavy antibiotic use. The procedure, which has been done as a kind of last resort, seems curative. When that was combined with the growing understanding of the organisms in the gut, a hypothesis emerged that organisms from a healthy donor might be able to "reboot" microbes in the gut.
What work is going on now?
Several groups, both in academia and industry, are collecting and combining organisms. Their results are beginning to show that restoring the health of a gut microbiome may well be a viable clinical procedure; not just with fecal transplants, but also more specific microbiome therapeutics.
Treating people with organisms taken from healthy guts is a methodology that is now being considered for several other diseases that appear to involve a disturbed state of the microbiome, such as inflammatory bowel disease. It could even be used to treat other things, which is unprecedented. Currently, there is no healthcare product that involves organism collections.
When we talk about the microbiome, we're talking about a vast system, aren't we?

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