Microbiome therapeutics stands as a groundbreaking advancement in the realm of healthcare. In a recent Q&A session with Dr Amine Zorgani, we delved deep into this revolutionary field to uncover the boundless potential it holds for the betterment of humanity's well-being.
#LBS: Please help us understand the importance of microbiome on the overall health of a human body? What are the potential repercussions of an imbalanced or dysfunctional microbiome?
Dr Amine: The microbiome is the collection of all the microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, that live on and inside our bodies. It's estimated that there are trillions of microbes living in our gut alone, and they play a vital role in our overall health.
The microbiome helps us digest food, absorb nutrients, and fight off infection. It also plays a role in our immune system, mood, and even our mental health.
An imbalanced or dysfunctional microbiome can lead to a number of health problems, including:
● Digestive problems: Constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gut-related disorders.
● Immune system problems: Allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.
● Skin problems: Acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
● Neurological problems: Depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder.
● Metabolic problems: Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Further to the above, a study published in the journal Nature (1) found that babies born by C-section had a different microbiome composition than babies born vaginally. This difference in microbiome composition was associated with an increased risk of developing allergies and asthma in childhood.
These are just a few examples of the many ways that the microbiome affects our health. As we learn more about the microbiome, we are likely to discover even more ways that it impacts our health.
If you are concerned about your microbiome, it is important to talk to your doctor. Some of them can help you assess your risk factors for microbiome-related health problems and recommend ways to improve your microbiome health.
#LBS: How significant is the shift towards nature-based health solutions such as microbiome therapeutics, and to what extent can we consider these treatments as potential game-changers in healthcare?
Dr Amine: The shift towards nature-based health solutions is significant, and microbiome therapeutics are one of the most promising areas of research. The interventions that can improve the health of the microbiome can have a positive impact on our overall health.
There are a number of reasons why microbiome therapeutics are considered to be potential game-changers in healthcare. First, they are based on a current understanding of the human body and how it works with the microbiome. Second, they are relatively safe and have few side effects. Third, they have the potential to be effective in treating a wide range of health problems.
Some of the potential benefits of microbiome therapeutics include:
● Treatment of chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and autism spectrum disorder.
● Prevention of disease where they could be used to prevent allergies and asthma in children who were born by C-section.
● Improvement of mental health. For example, they could be used to treat depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Of course, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed before microbiome therapeutics can become widely used. One challenge is that we still don't fully understand how the microbiome works.
However, the potential benefits of microbiome therapeutics are significant, and the research in this area is rapidly advancing. It is likely that microbiome therapeutics will play an increasingly important role in healthcare in the years to come.
Here are some examples of how microbiome therapeutics are being used today:
● Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT): FMT is a procedure that involves transplanting healthy gut bacteria from a donor to a recipient. FMT has been shown to be effective in treating recurrent Clostridium difficile infections, a serious and sometimes fatal gut infection.
● Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the bacteria that naturally live in our gut. Probiotics can be taken as supplements or found in some foods, such as yogurt. Probiotics have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including improving gut health, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.
● Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics can be found in foods such as onions, garlic, and asparagus.
These are just a few examples of how microbiome therapeutics are being used today. As we learn more about the microbiome, we are likely to see even more innovative ways to use microbiome therapeutics to improve our health.
#LBS: Can you please elaborate on current clinical trials of different biome therapeutics, and what can we expect if the results go well? What is the future that we are looking at in this field?
Dr Amine: The field of microbiome-based therapeutics is experiencing revolutionary developments and advancements. Recent studies have shown the potential of microbiome therapies in eliminating antibiotic-resistant strains, improving cancer CAR T therapy response, and understanding the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. Regulatory challenges for microbiome-based therapies are being addressed, with the introduction of a new category for biological medicines in Europe. Commercialization of microbiome-based products is also progressing, with recent approvals and clearer regulatory pathways. MaaT Pharma and Vedanta Biosciences are conducting clinical trials for microbiome therapies in areas such as oncology. April 2023 saw MaaT Pharma's announcement of FDA approval for the Investigational New Drug (IND) application, allowing the US Phase III pivotal clinical trial of MaaT013 in acute graft vs host disease treatment. Other recent developments in microbiome therapeutics have revealed that a CRISPR-based microbial gene therapy can “eliminate antibiotic-resistant E. coli strains in the gut”. This technology is currently being developed by SNIPR biome. The future development of microbiome therapies will be impacted by moving beyond C. difficile prevention and focusing on immune-mediated diseases.
#LBS: You are credited for the development of a problem-solving methodology called The MLA (The Most Logical Approach). Can you please share what is unique about the approach?
Dr Amine: The MLA, or Most Logical Approach, is a problem-solving methodology that I developed that is based on the following steps:
- Define the problem: The first step is to clearly define the problem that you are trying to solve. This includes identifying the symptoms, the underlying causes, and the desired outcome.
- Gather information: The next step is to gather information about the problem. This can include collecting data, conducting experiments, and talking to experts.
- Generate hypotheses: Once you have gathered enough information, you can start to generate hypotheses about the cause of the problem. These hypotheses should be based on the evidence that you have gathered.
- Test the hypotheses: The next step is to test your hypotheses. This can be done by conducting experiments or by collecting more data.
- Evaluate the results: Once you have tested your hypotheses, you need to evaluate the results. This includes determining which hypotheses are supported by the evidence and which hypotheses are not supported.
- Develop a solution: The final step is to develop a solution to the problem. This solution should be based on the evidence that you have gathered and the hypotheses that you have tested.
The MLA is a chronological and logical method that allows scientists to get to the conclusion of any problems in a step-by-step manner. It is unique in that it is based on the scientific method and it is designed to be repeatable and verifiable. It also allows scientists to reduce the complexity of any problems to small and tiny problems that can be solved easily and consistently.
Here is a real-world example of the MLA being used to solve problems. The development of the polio vaccine: Scientists first defined the problem, which was poliomyelitis, a highly contagious disease that can cause paralysis. They then gathered information about the disease, including its symptoms, causes, and transmission. They generated hypotheses about the cause of polio, and then tested these hypotheses. Finally, they developed a vaccine that was effective in preventing polio.
The MLA is a powerful problem-solving methodology that can be used to solve a wide variety of problems.
#LBS: How significant do you think events like the London Biotechnology Show are in accelerating biotech solutions in the UK and beyond?
Dr Amine: I believe that events like the London Biotechnology Show are incredibly significant in accelerating biotech solutions in the UK and beyond. These events provide a platform for biotech companies to showcase their products and services to potential investors, partners, and customers. They also provide an opportunity for biotech professionals to network and learn about the latest trends in the industry.