The Center brings together clinicians and researchers to tackle major microbiome-related diseases of the day. Our initial flagship project, described below, is to find clinical solutions to help people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. As the Center grows, we will broaden our scope to closely investigate other conditions where an altered microbiome has affected human health.
Flagship Project: Engineering Tomorrow’s Cure for IBD
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are conditions characterized by chronic, relapsing, and inappropriate inflammation of all or parts of the digestive tract, with the best understood manifestations of IBD being ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The pathologies of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have recently been found to have strong associations with the host microbiome, as well as host genetics, immune response, and environment, and therefore IBD is an ideal context within which we can to begin to explore the potential of microbiome-based therapies for complex inflammatory conditions. To date, clinical studies evaluating traditional fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) as a treatment for IBD have indicated that FMT may lead to reduction of symptoms, but larger and more robustly designed trials are needed. Furthermore, given IBD likely arises from aberrant crosstalk between the individual host microbiome and immune response, it is likely that a successful therapeutic will need to target the individuals particular disease state requiring a holistic approach combining microbial perturbations with immunological and behavioral interventions, such as diet. Delving far beyond traditional FMT, these new therapies will represent truly personalized medicine, developed according to genomic analyses of both the patient and their microbiome.
Navigating a successful path to an IBD cure thus requires a unique approach, driving clinically-oriented basic science and engineering towards discoveries that can then be tailored towards the individual patient and their illness. The Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics is poised to tackle this grand challenge, as an environment that supports and encourages collaboration between innovators from diverse clinical and research communities within and beyond Greater Boston.
For more information please see:
- Wlodarska M., Kostic AD., and Xavier RJ. 2015. An Integrative View of Microbiome-Host Interactions in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Cell Host Microbe. May 13;17(5):577-591
- Colman RJ., and Rubin DT. 2014. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation as Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Crohns Colitis. 2014 Dec 1; 8(12): 1569–1581.