Phase 1 Project
The more than 1,000 different species of bacteria that colonize our gastrointestinal tract, collectively known as our microbiome, are important for food processing and nutrient up-take. Studies show that the gut microbiome can affect digestion-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), as well as many other diseases, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome and even brain health. The intestinal microbiome can also affect how the body reacts to drugs, making it an important factor in drug development. Drugs, in turn, can affect the intestinal microbiome, with poorly studied consequences.
To date, there is no technology available to assess drug-microbiome interactions. Dr. Daniel Figeys and Dr. Alain Stintzi of the University of Ottawa are leading a team to develop an assay that will allow for rapid screening of human-derived microbiomes in the presence and absence of drugs. They will test this assay for a drug that treats IBD, to gain information on how the drug affects the microbiome and vice versa. The team will also develop a computational program that will combine and analyze these results, to better predict drug efficacy and clinical outcomes. By combining powerful meta-omics technologies, this high-throughput assay will be formatted so that multiple gut microbiomes are screened against selected drugs at once. The assay would include a kit with all components necessary to conduct the analysis, including the reference human microbiome materials for metaproteomics.
The product, called RapidAIM, could transform pharmaceutical and biotechnology development and the microbiology field, allowing for the rapid screening of candidate drugs against microbiomes before the drugs are commercialized or screening current drugs for potential adverse microbiome effects. The economic benefits will come in the form of a commercializable assay and a computational platform for the screening of human microbiomes based on meta-omics.