Targeting friend and foe: Emerging therapeutics in the age of gut microbiome and disease

Cho JA1, Chinnapen DJF2,3,4. J Microbiol. 2018 Mar;56(3):183-188. doi: 10.1007/s12275-018-8037-z. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Author information

1 Department of Food and Nutrition, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, 34134, Republic of Korea.

2 Division of Gastroenterology, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, 02115, USA. dan.chinnapen@childrens.harvard.edu.

3 Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 02115, USA. dan.chinnapen@childrens.harvard.edu.

4 Harvard Digestive Diseases Center, Boston, 02115, USA. dan.chinnapen@childrens.harvard.edu.


Mucosal surfaces that line our gastrointestinal tract are continuously exposed to trillions of bacteria that form a symbiotic relationship and impact host health and disease. It is only beginning to be understood that the cross-talk between the host and microbiome involve dynamic changes in commensal bacterial population, secretion, and absorption of metabolites between the host and microbiome. As emerging evidence implicates dysbiosis of gut microbiota in the pathology and progression of various diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and allergy, conventional treatments that either overlook the microbiome in the mechanism of action, or eliminate vast populations of microbes via wide-spectrum antibiotics need to be reconsidered. It is also becoming clear the microbiome can influence the body's response to therapeutic treatments for cancers. As such, targeting the microbiome as treatment has garnered much recent attention and excitement from numerous research labs and biotechnology companies. Treatments range from fecal microbial transplantation to precision-guided molecular approaches. Here, we survey recent progress in the development of innovative therapeutics that target the microbiome to treat disease, and highlight key findings in the interplay between host microbes and therapy.

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