Microbiome in health and disease

Dr Samuel Forster holding a bacterial agar plate showing anaerobic bacteria at the Hudson Institute

Microbiome in health and disease

There are trillions of microbes living inside and on the surface of your body, altogether they are called the microbiome and are vital to your health and fighting disease.

Since the microbiome was first recognised in the late 1990s, scientists have identified more than 2,000 microbial species from the largest microbiome, in the gut. The skin, bladder and genitals also harbour microbiome populations.

While microbes are symbiotic (benefiting you and the microbes), and some are pathogenic (disease-causing), in a healthy person, the symbiotic and pathogenic microbes work in balance. Imbalances, known as dysbiosis, disrupt the microbes, making people more susceptible to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Clostridioides difficile infection, which causes severe diarrhea and inflammation of the colon or colitis.

Babies and the microbiome

How do antibiotics affect your gut microbiome?

How does the gut microbiome affect your health?

Adapting the microbiome to treat disease

Our microbiome in health and disease research

Our scientists are at the forefront of understanding the complex microbiome communities. These answers will improve the understanding of why an illness develops and how best to treat it. The pioneering work of the Institute’s Synnate program is exploring new medical frontiers to answer how the innate immune system distinguishes ‘friend from foe’ and how these interactions control the immune system. In collaboration with commercial partners our scientists are developing microbial therapies to treat unmet medical need for patients with IBD.

Microbiome treatments for paediatric IBD

Paul Hertzog, Liz Hartland and Sam Forster at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Clinical study. The involvement of gut bacteria in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been known for decades. Several promising clinical studies have shown the microbiome could potentially be rebalanced in IBD using faecal transfer from healthy volunteers. However, there are no therapeutics for IBD that can be reproducibly supplied and administered to adult or child patients.

The Hudson Institute team working with Monash Health collaborators have identified key bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract for potential use as therapies in children with IBD. The project aim is to understand how these bacteria have their therapeutic effects in the gut and to use these bacteria in a Phase 1 clinical study of children with paediatric IBD.

Team | Associate Professor Samuel Forster, Dr Edward Giles, Dr Michelle Chonwerawong, Professor Paul Hertzog, Professor Elizabeth Hartland

Understanding human microbiome diversity

Understanding the origins of gut health

Understanding the role of prebiotics and probiotics on the microbiome

Characterising the food microbiome and its roles on microbiome diversity

Microbiome in health and disease collaborators

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