The Human Microbiome Project – http://hmpdacc.org/- (HMP) was launched in 2008. It extends another ambitious global project- the Human Genome Project. HMP seeks to understand the metagenome (the combined genomes of all the microbes) of 300 healthy people. Five body areas are sampled: skin, mouth, nose, colon, and vagina.
The project generates a huge amount of scientific research to understand our gut-based microorganisms better. As we understand the role and dynamics of these microorganisms (collectively, we can also call them microbiome), we better appreciate their role in maintaining health and preventing and treating many ailments.
The microbiome help digest food, regulate the immune system and protect the body from harmful microorganisms. The intimate connection between gut-based bacteria and the brain is also being uncovered. New scientific interpretations of old gut thinking and feeling concepts are being offered.
According to a report from Grand View Research, the global gut microbiome market size was valued at USD 664.8 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.1% from 2021 to 2028. This growth is driven by increasing awareness of the importance of gut health and the growing body of research linking the gut microbiome to various health conditions, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and certain gastrointestinal disorders.
Investment in gut microbiome research comes from various sources, including government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. Major pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms are investing heavily in gut microbiome research as they see the potential for new therapies to emerge from this field. Additionally, venture capital firms are investing in startups working on developing new technologies and products related to the gut microbiome.
Overall, the scale of investment going into gut microbiome research is substantial and is expected to continue growing in the coming years as the field matures and new opportunities for therapeutic applications are discovered.
Some of the key research areas in gut microbiome include:
- Microbial composition and diversity: Researchers are studying the types of bacteria and other microorganisms present in the gut and the factors that influence their abundance and diversity.
- Gut-brain axis: There is growing evidence that the gut microbiome plays a role in regulating the nervous system and has a direct impact on mental health. Research in this area is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying this relationship.
- Metabolic diseases: Researchers are investigating the role of the gut microbiome in the development of various metabolic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Gastrointestinal disorders: There is growing evidence that the gut microbiome plays a role in the development and severity of various gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Immune system regulation: The gut microbiome is thought to play a critical role in regulating the immune system. Research in this area is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying this relationship.
- Antibiotic resistance: Antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome and lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Research in this area is focused on developing strategies to prevent or mitigate the development of antibiotic resistance.
- Microbiome-based therapies: Researchers are exploring the potential of using probiotics, prebiotics, and other microbiome-based therapies to improve health and treat disease
Given the importance of the microbiome for human health, more research dollars will flow into this sector.