Professor Joseph F Petrosino, Chief Scientific Officer at Metanome and Director of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine, discusses how the Human Microbiome Project aims to characterize the human microbiome and analyze its role in human health and disease.
Scientists have long studied the link between our genes and our health. Now, in a growing area of scientific research, they’re studying the link between the bacteria in our intestines and virtually every disease that ails us.
Dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota affecting the gut barrier could be triggering Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), the second most frequent autoimmune disease in childhood. This study compared the structure of the fecal microbiota in 29 mestizo children aged 7–18 years, including 8 T1D at onset, 13 T1D after 2 years treatment, and 8 healthy controls. Clinical information was collected, predisposing haplotypes were determined; the fecal DNA was extracted, the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene amplified and 454-pyrosequenced. The newly diagnosed T1D cases had high levels of the genus Bacteroides (p , 0.004), whereas the control group had a gut microbiota dominated by Prevotella. Children with T1D treated for $2 years had levels of Bacteroides and Prevotella compared to those of the control group. The gut microbiota of newly diagnosed T1D cases is altered, but whether it is involved in disease causation or is a consequence of host selection remains unclear.