The HMP, which was supported by “only” approximately $20 million of funding in its first year, served as a catalyst for the development of computational tools, clinical protocols, and reference datasets for an emerging field that now approaches nearly $2 billion per year in market value of diagnostics and therapeutics.
Over the past 15 years, many important discoveries about the microbiome have been made, particularly in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition. The transplantation of gut microbiome from one person to another has been shown to be more than 90% effective in the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection, disrupting our current therapeutic algorithms of repetitive antibiotics. Other exciting discoveries have included the relationship between the gut microbiome and enteric nervous system, and its roles in the regulation of metabolism and obesity and in the progression of liver fibrosis and cancer.
Looking ahead, several exciting areas related to digestive health and the microbiome are being prioritized, including the role of probiotics in nutrition, the complex relationship of the bidirectional “gut-brain” axis, and further development of analytics to define and deliver precision medicine across a wide range of digestive disorders. Without a doubt, emerging microbiome discoveries will be prominently featured in the pages of GI & Hepatology News over the coming years to keep our readers informed of these cutting-edge findings.
Dr. Rosenberg is medical director of the North Shore Endoscopy Center and director of clinical research at GI Alliance of Illinois in Gurnee, Ill. Dr. Rosenberg is a consultant for Aimmune Therapeutics and performs clinical research with Ferring Pharmaceuticals.