Microbiota in Health and Medicine

The intestinal microbiome is a new frontier of therapeutics in medicine

The intestine contains highly organized, dense communities of microbes that are called ‘microbiota’. This microbiota is integral to human physiology and plays important roles in immunity, energy metabolism, and even function of the nervous system. Scientists suspect that changes in our lifestyle, which include common use of antibiotics and diet that lacks in proper nutrition, have led to changes in the composition of microbiota that are contributing to many modern diseases, which include obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, atopic diseases such as allergies and asthma, many cancers, and even neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. While these are all important possibilities, we do know that some very serious diseases do happen when the intestinal microbiota is damaged by antibiotics, such as Clostridium difficile infection (commonly known as ‘C. diff‘).  Restoration of normal composition of gut microbes is emerging as the most effective treatment at least for this problem. However, there is an urgent need to investigate whether such restorative approaches can be used for other indications.

Our Mission

 

1. Develop effective and practical restorative microbiota therapies

2. Conduct mechanistic research to understand microbiota-host interactions and discover strategies to nurture and maintain healthy microbiota

3. Educate patients, physicians, and the general public on our best understanding of microbiome science in health and medicine

Development of microbiota therapeutics

Our program has developed the basic protocols for standardized manufacturing of healthy microbiota for restorative treatments in patients who lost their own normal microbiota after treatments with antibiotics. We manufacture these preparations in liquid/frozen and encapsulated, freeze-dried formulations. The manufacturing is done using Good Manufacturing Practices protocols at the University of Minnesota Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics Facility.

Mechanistic research

The promise of microbiota therapeutics is great, but we are just at the beginning of a long journey in harnessing the power of the microbiome. We invite our patients to become our partners in this important research. We are also eager to collaborate with other academic groups. Progress can only be made if we all work together. New cures may come in various forms, including discovery of beneficial microbes, beneficial microbial products or their derivatives, or intact microbial communities.
 
 
 

Donor Recruitment

Donor recruitment remains an area of great need for the program. Potential donors undergo a rigorous qualifying examination, and are tested for infectious disease and other problems, e.g., diabetes. Donors have to be completely healthy, i.e., cannot be obese, take prescription medications, have food intolerances, have problems with autoimmunity or allergic/atopic disease. [Read More…]

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