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European Researchers Launch Study of Gut Microbes, Cardiometabolic Diseases

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – France's National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) is coordinating a European multi-partner project that will conduct metagenomics-based studies of gut microbes to understand the causes of and find ways to treat cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs), INSERM said on Tuesday.

The five-year Metagenomics in Cardiometabolic Diseases (METACARDIS) study will involve 14 partners in six European countries and will seek to discover how changes in the gut microbiota are involved in the onset and progression of CMDs, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and obesity, and their associated conditions.

CMDs incur a massive socioeconomic cost to the EU economy, over €192 billion ($251 billion) a year through spending on treatments, indirect treatments, and lost productivity, according to INSERM. Although these conditions present themselves in many different ways, they may be linked by common channels and dysfunctions, meaning it is "essential to thoroughly understand the physiopathological mechanism involved, make detailed early diagnoses, and deliver treatments that are tailored to each disease," INSERM said.

The METACARDIS partners aim to discover shared biological targets that are involved in these CMDs, validate targets and biomarkers within the gut microbiota, use molecular phenotyping to refine the analysis of patients' clinical profiles, and develop new software for integrating environmental data with patients' clinical and biological information.

The project, which is supported by the European Commission, will launch before the end of this year with studies on a patient cohort that has already been established and will provide the researchers with biological specimens and a range of clinical, medical, and environmental data from over 200 subjects.

The partners will use metagenomic profiling and metabolic studies to conduct initial studies on CMD biomarkers in this cohort. A second cohort with CMDs at various stages of development will be created in France, Denmark, and Germany, beginning in 2015.

The METACARDIS teams then will integrate information on these patients' lifestyles, such as data on nutrition, physical activity, and psychosocial factors, with their clinical and biological data, to study how these factors influence the gut microbiota and the progression of these diseases.

Along with researchers in France, the project will involve scientists in the UK, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium.

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