Home » News » An early correlation in MD-Paedigree’s metagenomics

MD-Paedigree is conducting metagenomic studies in all two disease areas, to see whether metagenomic modelling can also be a useful tool in clinical decision support. By analysing the gut microbiota of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) patients and obese children at risk of cardiovascular disease. MD-Paedigree aims to explore its potential role in conditioning disease susceptibility as well as immune response in the different stages of disease, thus adding a further important dimension to multiscale analysis.

The first evidence (still based on just an initial sample collection) shows some interesting correlations distinguishing these two disease areas from the control samples of unaffected children.

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While these correlations await full interpretation, they could lead to new insights into these diseases. The human body contains over 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, and within each human body, intestinal and other microbiota, along with the ‘host’ human cells, form a complex ecosystem that, as a whole, interactively performs various biological processes.

“Analysis of gut microbiota can provide new insight into the environmental factors which regulate innate and adaptive immune homeostasis and affect the development of systemic autoimmune diseases.”

The human gut is a dense microbial ecosystem comprised of approximately 100 trillion microorganisms, whose collective genome, the microbiome, is made up from 100-fold more genes than the entire human genome. As a result, some researchers have come to regard the human body as a as ‘superorganism’ which includes all its indigenous microbes; they think that the composite genome should be referred to as the human ‘metagenome’, so that sequencing the components of the microbiome can be viewed as a logical albeit ambitious expansion of the human genome project. Analysis of gut microbiota can provide new insight into the environmental factors which regulate innate and adaptive immune homeostasis and affect the development of systemic autoimmune diseases.

The gastrointestinal tract is the largest human immune organ and home to a complex community of trillions of bacteria that are engaged in a dynamic interaction with the host immune system. Communication between the microbiota and the host establishes and maintains immune homeostasis, enabling protective immune responses against pathogens while preventing adverse inflammatory responses to harmless commensal microbes. Correlations have been found between the composition of gut microbiota and some preferential immune responses.

Next generation ‘omics’ technologies are now able to describe the gut microbiome at a detailed genetic and functional level. Referred to as synergic meta-omics or systems biology, these approaches provide new insights into the importance of the gut microbiome in human health, and are being used to map microbiome variability between individuals and populations. Research has established the importance of the gut microbiome for numerous systemic disease states, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, and in intestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Thus, understanding microbiome activity is essential to the development of future personalised strategies of healthcare, as well as potentially providing new targets for drug development.

This article was originally published in Md-Paedigree Newsletter Issue 2 

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