By: Karen Crawford, Ph.D., President

Dear Microbiome Researchers,

I just returned from the Second Annual Translational Microbiome Conference in Boston and my head is spinning with the possibilities. Suggested connections between the microbial community living on/in our bodies and health are expanding from the health of our gut to asthma and beyond. Many in the field consider the Microbiome another organ, the most easily replaced or improved organ in the human body.

As we become increasingly aware that antibiotics both cure and create problems, it is encouraging to think that beneficial bacteria could be introduced and become a stable beneficial addition to our microbiome. Larry Weiss of AOBiome, a skin microbiome company, presented a product which can be obtained on the internet called Mother Dirt; a bottle with friendly bacteria originally derived from the soil, to spray on our bodies, replacing chemically-derived skin treatments such as soap and deodorant. Ammonia-utilizing bacteria in Mother Dirt convert naturally occurring nitrogen compounds on the skin to potentially beneficial nitrites.

Evolve Biosystems is looking at conditions which are rooted in perturbations in the microbiome of infants. An essential organism nicknamed “Baby Bif” is not present in high numbers in infants as a result of our modern aseptic, antibiotic filled environment. A skewed microbiome in infants may lead to conditions such as asthma/allergies, diabetes and obesity, conditions which could be prevented if friendly bacteria were provided in infant formula and foods. Laurel Lagenaur from Osel, Inc. presented data on lactobacillus products targeted to urinary tract and vaginal infections. Osel’s product, designed to restore a healthy vaginal microbiome, will likely be the first microbiome product to receive drug approval.

We heard about the OpenBiome stool bank which is providing materials for fecal transplants in multiple US centers. Success of the transplant procedures in resolving reoccurring C. difficile infections is fueling enthusiasm for development of pure culture therapies. Janssen Research and Development and Seres Therapeutics reported on projects to develop good gut bacteria as potential remedies for C.difficile, IBD, and Crohn’s disease. Janssen is using a network of collaborators to make progress in this area. Although the gut is the current focus, everyone is thinking beyond to using microbes to re-establish the balance of microbes to influence many different disease states.

Personalized nutrition was the headline from Lihi Segal of Day Two. The company is developing a personalized medicine approach to normalizing blood sugar. Feedback from a glucose monitor along with analysis of the gut microbiome allows Day Two to apply an algorithm suggesting meals to regulate blood sugar. Under such a regime the blood sugar roller coaster has been flattened for trial patients.

It is an exciting time to work in the microbiome arena, and I welcome the opportunity to connect with colleagues, meet up with customers and learn more about what others are doing to advance the study of the human microbiome. At List Labs, we pride ourselves on partnering to deliver live biotherapeutic products that yield results. If you are embarking on a new product or ready to identify a partner to ease into clinical trials with superior research, process development and manufacturing, contact us and find out more about how we collaborate.