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New in Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology: Relief May Be In Sight for IBD Sufferers

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Chron’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (US), are debilitating diseases to their sufferers.

HLI’s scientists – in collaboration with scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute and other organizations – recently shared an important discovery: that analysis of genetic risk as well as gut microbial imbalance can lead to better strategies for advanced care of these patients.  Their research was published this week in Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology.

The team’s research used whole genome sequencing and shotgun metagenomics – a process to study uncontrollable microorganism that are difficult to analyze – to study the clinical features, host genome and stool microbial metagenome of 85 IBD patients, and the results were compared to 146 control individuals.

This analysis revealed striking similarity in the features of stool microbiome imbalance – or dysbiosis – in the microbial composition of these patients.  They shared a similar loss of diversified core microbiome, enrichment and depletion of specific bacteria and enrichment of bacterial disease factors.

From this data, the team concluded that genetic risk may have a role in early identification of IBD and thus earlier treatment, and that these enhanced bacterial disease components paired with the compromised microbiome may lead to IBD.

“Genomic analysis of the microbiome is proving to be a powerful frontier for insight into human health that is both informing science and improving life for patients,” said Karen Nelson, Ph.D., President of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).

Through this research, a better understanding of the genomic components of the microbiome particularly related to these specific conditions was achieved – benefiting future screening of new patients and their care – the goal of HLI’s Health Nucleus (see below)

Furthermore, using whole genome screening early with IBD patients may help doctors correctly target biologic treatments.

What is the microbiome and why is it significant to health?

You may have seen ads for yogurt or similar products that contribute to digestive health.  A key part of your digestive system is the microbiome – and many patients deal with disruptions of that system.

The microbiome is made is made of trillions of bacteria that live in and on the human body.  The microbiome plays a vital role in the development of the immune system.  The microbiome also aids the digestion and absorption of specific foods and production of certain nutrients.

DNA sequencing of the microbiome – a service at HLI’s clinical research and discover center, the Health Nucleus – provides important information about the type of microbes in and on us.  This information determines whether there is a dysbiosis of healthy microbial populations that can be associated with different diseases.  We believe continued investigation of the composition and function of microbes will allow us to understand their role in disease and maintaining health.

Want to learn more?

The Health Nucleus, HLI’s clinical research and discovery center, aims to dive deeper into individual health with a proprietary combination of genomics, digital imaging and machine learning to yield better understanding of the genome.  To learn more or to schedule an appointment, click here: https://www.humanlongevity.com/.

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