The CTMR started in January 2016 as a collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) and Ferring Pharmaceuticals. The center builds on a deep understanding of translational microbiome research and has established a broad technical, biological, clinical and epidemiological platform for studying complex microbiological communities in well-defined human materials. A part of the infrastructure at Karolinska Institutet is established within the Clinical Genomics facility at SciLifeLab with access to high-throughput next-generation sequencing capacity. The collaboration forms a solid foundation for understanding the contribution of the microbiome to normal physiology and pathophysiology and opens opportunities for development of novel therapies to address gastroenterology, reproductive health and neonatology.
Scientific Background and Goals
We are just beginning to learn the effects our microbiome has on us, but it is clear that they can be profound. Certain species help digest food and synthesize vitamins. Others guide the immune system. Different properties of the microbiome have been linked to weight gain, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and other gut disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, eczema and autism. Infant health even appears to benefit from a proper seeding of microbes at birth, with health consequences ranging into adolescence. Recent data indicates that a causal link exists between dysbiosis of the gut microbiome and colon tumorigenesis, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and astma. Therefore, manipulating the microbiome composition is a potential strategy to prevent the outcome of such diseases.
Up to 20 percent of the small molecules in our bloodstream appear to be synthesized by small-molecule biosynthetic gene clusters in genomes of human-associated bacteria. Bacterial production of drug-like molecules with unknown function in the human microbiome provides a template for future experimental efforts to discover biologically active small molecules and a potential for novel therapeutic discoveries. The microbiome thus may provide some of the most important medical breakthroughs of our era, hence, the human microbiome may be as important to our health and to the etiology of diseases as the human genome.We aim to explore the gut and vaginal microbiome in the healthy population, both in adults and children, since there is an urgent need in microbiome research to clarify what is normal in the human microbiome in order to define a dysbiotic profile and thereby provide therapies or lifestyle interventions to change it back to normal again.