Microbiome news highlights from 2017: emerging treatments, autism, obesity, NIH conference

The emerging importance of the role the gut microbiome plays in human health continued to dominate headlines throughout 2017. This year, microbiome therapeutics under development for conditions like Clostridium difficile infection, inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease, modulating the microbiota with diet, and the advances discussed at the NIH microbiome conference ranked among the most widely read articles in our Microbiome Resource Center.

To recap the year’s top news in the study of the gut microbiome, the editors of Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease have compiled 13 of our most popular microbiome-related news articles from 2017.

1. Gut microbiome therapies show promise for treating autism

Therapies that target the gut microbiome through diet, prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics or fecal microbiota transplantation could effectively treat autism spectrum disorders, but finding a “cheap and effective treatment” requires better designed and larger studies, according to researchers who reviewed more than 150 studies published since the 1960s. Read more

2. Prebiotic fiber supplement reduces body fat in overweight children by altering gut microbiome

Overweight and obese children had significant reductions in body fat after taking a prebiotic fiber supplement in a randomized controlled trial. Read more

3. ‘Mycobiome’ research suggests antifungals, probiotics could treat Crohn’s disease

While recent efforts have improved the understanding of the gut microbiome’s role in inflammatory bowel disease, most research has focused on gut bacteria while overlooking the fungal communities in the GI tract, or the “mycobiome,” according to a review published in Digestive and Liver Disease. Read more

4. Antibiotic use in preterm infants harms gut microbiome, contributes to resistance

Approximately 99% of infants who are born with very low birth weight receive antibiotics within the first 2 days of life, contributing to antibiotic resistance and the destruction of helpful bacteria in the gut microbiome, according to data presented in August at the NIH’s workshop, “The Human Microbiome: Emerging Themes at the Horizon of the 21st Century.” Read more

5 . Microbiome integral to precision diagnosis, personalized treatment

Advances in microbiome science will play a key role in a new era of patient care, enabling precision diagnostics and personalized treatment strategies, according to a review article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Read more

6 . NIH features early progress in understanding microbiome’s role in IBD

At the NIH conference, several researchers shared their early findings on the link between the gut microbiota and inflammatory bowel disease, including their role in disease activity, diagnosis and future therapeutics. Read more

7 . Gut microbiota amino acids linked to disease severity in Crohn’s

Fecal samples from patients with Crohn’s disease showed as association between severity of the disease, gut dysbiosis and free amino acids while others showed the impact of antibiotics on the dysbiosis, leading researchers to suggest that nitrogen flux may be a potential target for inflammatory bowel disease. Read more

8 . Controlled feeding studies show promise for evaluating diet-gut microbiome interactions

Controlled feeding studies may help researchers better understand the effects of diet on the gut microbial structure in association with risk for disease, according to a presentation at the NIH’s microbiome workshop. Read more

9 . Microbiome research ethics looking at a ‘critical gap’

With a shift from observational to experimental research using human microbiomes, ethical questions associated with the research and use of microbiomes are on the rise, according to a presentation at the NIH’s microbiome workshop. Read more

10 . Fecal transplant improves metabolic syndrome in patients with greater initial microbial diversity

Fecal microbiota transplantation from lean donors provided short-term improvements in peripheral insulin sensitivity in about half of obese men with metabolic syndrome enrolled in a small clinical trial in the Netherlands. Read more

11 . Fecal transplant shows long-term safety for recurrent C. difficile

Fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection showed long-term safety and benefits over antibiotic therapy in a recent study. Read more

1 2 . Bacteria film location, consistency differs in healthy, cancerous colons

As colon cancer rates increase in the U.S., researchers are looking to gut microbiota to find early predictors, such as bacterial biofilms found on the colon mucosa surface, according to a presentation at the NIH’s conference. Read more

1 3 . Gut microbiome markers show promise for colorectal cancer diagnosis

Certain strains of gut microbiota are associated with colorectal cancer, and could be used as a non-invasive, accurate and cost-saving diagnostic test, according to new research published in Gut. Read more

14. Microbiome ‘fingerprint’ shows donor microbes persist in fecal transplant recipients

Specific microbial strains from donors colonized and persisted for up to 2 years in patients who received fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, according to recent study results. Read more

15. FDA grants orphan designation to microbiome drug for pediatric UC

Seres Therapeutics announced the FDA has given its microbiome drug candidate SER-287 Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of pediatric ulcerative colitis. Read more

The emerging importance of the role the gut microbiome plays in human health continued to dominate headlines throughout 2017. This year, microbiome therapeutics under development for conditions like Clostridium difficile infection, inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease, modulating the microbiota with diet, and the advances discussed at the NIH microbiome conference ranked among the most widely read articles in our Microbiome Resource Center.

To recap the year’s top news in the study of the gut microbiome, the editors of Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease have compiled 13 of our most popular microbiome-related news articles from 2017.

1. Gut microbiome therapies show promise for treating autism

Therapies that target the gut microbiome through diet, prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics or fecal microbiota transplantation could effectively treat autism spectrum disorders, but finding a “cheap and effective treatment” requires better designed and larger studies, according to researchers who reviewed more than 150 studies published since the 1960s. Read more

2. Prebiotic fiber supplement reduces body fat in overweight children by altering gut microbiome

Overweight and obese children had significant reductions in body fat after taking a prebiotic fiber supplement in a randomized controlled trial. Read more

3. ‘Mycobiome’ research suggests antifungals, probiotics could treat Crohn’s disease

While recent efforts have improved the understanding of the gut microbiome’s role in inflammatory bowel disease, most research has focused on gut bacteria while overlooking the fungal communities in the GI tract, or the “mycobiome,” according to a review published in Digestive and Liver Disease. Read more

4. Antibiotic use in preterm infants harms gut microbiome, contributes to resistance

Approximately 99% of infants who are born with very low birth weight receive antibiotics within the first 2 days of life, contributing to antibiotic resistance and the destruction of helpful bacteria in the gut microbiome, according to data presented in August at the NIH’s workshop, “The Human Microbiome: Emerging Themes at the Horizon of the 21st Century.” Read more

5 . Microbiome integral to precision diagnosis, personalized treatment

Advances in microbiome science will play a key role in a new era of patient care, enabling precision diagnostics and personalized treatment strategies, according to a review article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Read more

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6 . NIH features early progress in understanding microbiome’s role in IBD

At the NIH conference, several researchers shared their early findings on the link between the gut microbiota and inflammatory bowel disease, including their role in disease activity, diagnosis and future therapeutics. Read more

7 . Gut microbiota amino acids linked to disease severity in Crohn’s

Fecal samples from patients with Crohn’s disease showed as association between severity of the disease, gut dysbiosis and free amino acids while others showed the impact of antibiotics on the dysbiosis, leading researchers to suggest that nitrogen flux may be a potential target for inflammatory bowel disease. Read more

8 . Controlled feeding studies show promise for evaluating diet-gut microbiome interactions

Controlled feeding studies may help researchers better understand the effects of diet on the gut microbial structure in association with risk for disease, according to a presentation at the NIH’s microbiome workshop. Read more

9 . Microbiome research ethics looking at a ‘critical gap’

With a shift from observational to experimental research using human microbiomes, ethical questions associated with the research and use of microbiomes are on the rise, according to a presentation at the NIH’s microbiome workshop. Read more

10 . Fecal transplant improves metabolic syndrome in patients with greater initial microbial diversity

Fecal microbiota transplantation from lean donors provided short-term improvements in peripheral insulin sensitivity in about half of obese men with metabolic syndrome enrolled in a small clinical trial in the Netherlands. Read more

11 . Fecal transplant shows long-term safety for recurrent C. difficile

Fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection showed long-term safety and benefits over antibiotic therapy in a recent study. Read more

1 2 . Bacteria film location, consistency differs in healthy, cancerous colons

As colon cancer rates increase in the U.S., researchers are looking to gut microbiota to find early predictors, such as bacterial biofilms found on the colon mucosa surface, according to a presentation at the NIH’s conference. Read more

1 3 . Gut microbiome markers show promise for colorectal cancer diagnosis

Certain strains of gut microbiota are associated with colorectal cancer, and could be used as a non-invasive, accurate and cost-saving diagnostic test, according to new research published in Gut. Read more

14. Microbiome ‘fingerprint’ shows donor microbes persist in fecal transplant recipients

Specific microbial strains from donors colonized and persisted for up to 2 years in patients who received fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, according to recent study results. Read more

15. FDA grants orphan designation to microbiome drug for pediatric UC

Seres Therapeutics announced the FDA has given its microbiome drug candidate SER-287 Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of pediatric ulcerative colitis. Read more

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