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Link between microbiome and chronic diseases

InnovITech's Metagenome project aims to develop AI-based software to support the analysis of the gut microbiome composition and the association between certain diseases. Research on the microbiome has made significant breakthroughs in recent decades, and an increasing number of diseases have been linked to microbial changes. The article by Vijay and Valdes provides a comprehensive summary of the microbial relationship in chronic diseases. The gut microbiome composition affects a wide range of organ dysfunctions, from gastrointestinal inflammatory processes to neurological diseases.

In addition to genetic susceptibility, environmental effects, including an upset microbial balance, also play a role in the development of autoimmune processes. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients have been shown to have lower gut microbiome diversity, which correlates with RA-specific autoantibodies. Collinsella aerofaciens can increase intestinal permeability, which leads to the production of cytokines that play an important role in the pathogenesis of RA.

Altered microbial lipid metabolism in the presence of reduced bacterial diversity may contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes. The predominance of bacteria belonging to the genus Bacteroides results in reduced production of short-chain fatty acids, which have a significant immune regulatory effect.

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is an inflammatory skin disease, in which the gut microbiota also plays a role. Patients with eczema have been found to have higher prevalence of Clostridium difficile, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, compared to healthy control samples, while the proportion of bacteria belonging to the taxa Bifidobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Bacteroides is lower.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a major abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation disorder, which is also associated with an altered microbial balance. IBS is characterised by a predominance of bacteria belonging to the Firmicutes phylum, in particular Ruminococcus, Clostridium and Dorea, with Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium being present in higher abundance compared to control patients.

Bacteria are able to influence the communication processes between the intestinal tract and the nervous system, known as the gut-brain axis. Changes in the gut microbiome can also lead to mental illness. Excessive overgrowth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria is associated with the development of schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These examples suggest that the bacteria in the gut are intricately linked to the way our bodies work, and that changes in their composition can lead to serious diseases. In addition to genetic predisposition, several factors, including the microbiome, play a role in the development and progression of chronic diseases. The objective of the Metagenome project is to develop a platform to support the identification of microbial changes underlying diseases, with the potential to develop personalised therapies.