The Human Microbiome A New Frontier In Drug Discovery

Life Science Research In Drug Discovery

The notion of The Human Microbiome is one that has expanded significantly in recent years. The concept is still pretty new to the average American, but researchers and scientists are making significant progress. These advances in life science research are largely down to two factors. First, there is the fact that scientists are now getting to grips with the actual influence of the gut microbiome on health. Second, significant funding was newly declared that gives researchers the chance to delve deeper.

In May 2016, the White House approved the National Microbiome Initiative. $121 million of Federal funding and $400 million in private funding have gone into this impressive venture.

The purpose of the project is simple: to promote the study and the use of this intriguing microbiome. Further research and practical testing could help us learn even more about its function and potential use in healthcare.

What Is The Gut Microbiome?

Microbiome Life Science Research

Countless microorganisms are responsible for the maintenance and health of our bodies. Many of us will be familiar with the good bacteria vs bad bacteria approach of many yogurt companies. There is a community of these microorganisms in the gut that aid with digestion and bodily functions. The makeup of bacteria and the health of this community can vary greatly depending on the individual’s diet and general health. A compromised gut biome can lead to illness and disease.

Scientists in life science research feel that the impact of the Gut Microbiome could be extensive. It is currently believed that this microbiota could have a bearing on the following:

metabolic disease

liver disease

inflammatory disease

neurological disorders

infectious diseases

Our Ongoing Understanding Of This Microbiome Has Lead To Massive Advances In Life Science Research

Life Science Research In Lab

The idea of the gut microbiome is still relatively new, but we have learned a lot in recent years. One of the first things that scientists needed to determine was the “healthy” gut biome. What was the ultimate make-up when there were so many variations in bacteria counts?

The NIH Common Fund Microbiome Project worked on this from 2007 to 2012. An average was taken from samples from 242 healthy Americans to determine the best model. There is still some dispute on the accuracy of this model, but it was a start.

Before the initiative was announced, life science research was being undertaken on therapeutic products that worked with the microbiome concept. Creating these products and determining these good microbes was not easy. It has been a long journey between dealing with the initial fecal matter and the cocktail of bacteria and finding solutions.

Now there is a range of options in development – from the old-fashioned enemas to new pills. As more options are tested in more and more trials, it seems that many suspicions about the role of these microbes were correct. There are currently links between the gut microbiome and many drug-resistant infections, colitis, and even autism.

Rebiotix began the revolution in human microbiome treatment options with their FDA-approved product for recurrent CDI. Seres Therapeutics then went public. Eventually, some microbiome companies emerged, highlighting a competitive market for products in this area.

Creating an FDA-approved product was challenging without clear, validated test results or a bright idea of potency and dosage. Rebiotix underwent some trials, including the first microbiota-based randomized, double-blind trial on a multinational level.

Developing Microbiome Treatments  That Are Appealing To The Average User.

Microbiome Life Science Research

There is a major step to take in making this life science research appealing and palatable to the common reader. The term gut microbiome is a little vague, perfectly scientific and creates distance between the cure and the source. As soon as the term “fecal matter” is mention, even in the most scientific white paper, people are turn off.

Fecal transplants are not a recent invention. They have used this in some ways for centuries as a potential cure for gastrointestinal disorders. In 2013, FT – to give it’s more appealing name – became a short-lived fad. This led to patients traveling for treatments for all kinds of illnesses.

However, the problems with the method often outweigh the benefits. These enemas need to collect from a viable source, process and administers in a short space of time. It is laborious and unpleasant for most concerns. The creation of the National Microbiome Initiative can only help to bring ideas together. It can improve the science behind the products and bring the concept to the public in a new way.

This Announcement Heralds The Opportunity For Even More Major Advances In Life Science Research.

This is one final stumbling block in the path of this Human Microbiome Initiative. There are some that are a little pessimistic about its chances. The rise and fall of FT treatments showed how easy it was for people to jump to a new, unusual treatment option. However, the fad was quickly downplayed by scientists due to a lack of evidence for any concrete benefits.

There are concerns that these feelings will transfer to this new initiative. Some feel that the funding and the growing science behind the theories is enough to see important gains. Another worry is that the whole concept is unsustainable and that this massive federal funding will get waste.

At the moment, it is best to look at the progression made in the past decade. The scientific advancements above have taken a complicated matter – both physically and theoretically – and created products and tests that can help. We have now gone from independent researchers working on microbes and fecal matter to a nationally-recognized program working on “the human microbiome.” This separation can only help researchers to win people over in the future.

A lot is riding on the success of the new Human Microbiome Initiative. If successful, it could help us learn more about these organisms and their impact on health and disease prevention. The more we understand, the better the chance of developing significant treatment options for gastrointestinal disease and perhaps others. As the initiative expands and big names jump onboard, it shouldn’t be long before we see some more significant advances in life science research.


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