About Host-Microbiome Interactions
A detailed understanding of human biology requires not only knowledge of the human genome but also of the human metagenome. Humans live in constant association with microbes that are present on surfaces and in cavities of the human body, and even within our cells. The number of our microbial companions exceeds by at least ten fold those of cells of our own body and the number of unique genes they encode is at least 100 fold greater than the number of genes in our own genome.
This complex and dynamic microbiata has a profound influence on physiology, nutrition, and immunity. Disruptions in these human associated microbial commnunities or alterations of the intimate cross-talk between these microbes and human cells are a significant factor in many diseases. Understanding the dynamic and variable nature of human microbial communities is a critical aspect of challenge before us.
Defining this dynamic diversity represents the next frontier of genomics.
Our goal is to characterize the human microbiota, enabling the study of its variation with population, genotypes, disease, age, nutrition, medication and environment, and therefore opening avenues to modify it, in order to optimize the health and wellbeing of any individual.
The methodology developed recently and termed quantitative metagenomics, allows characterizing human-associated microbial communities in great detail. Assessment of the gut microbiome has opened avenues for diagnosis and monitoring of several chronic diseases, for detection of individuals at higher risk of disease development and even for alleviation of the risk, by appropriate interventions. Detection and alleviation of risk equals prevention, which holds promise to impact greatly health and well-being of populations in industrialized countries, where chronic diseases are in constant progression over the past decades, entailing ever increasing suffering of the patients and their families, as well as placing an almost unsustainable financial burden on the society.