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Baylor Lands $12M Contract to Study Microbiome-Diabetes Links

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine's Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research will use an $11.8 million contract with the National Institutes of Health and the University of South Florida to determine whether and how organisms in the human microbiome may be involved in the risk of type 1 diabetes.

The study is part of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) project, a $169 million multi-center and international initiative funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Over the past eight years, TEDDY has enrolled more than 8,600 infants from populations with predispositions for developing diabetes due to family history. Participants provide samples and keep diaries of their diets, illnesses, allergies, and other factors.

"The goal of this research is to look for microbial association and a potential viral trigger for the initiation of this disease in people who are genetically susceptible to it," CMMR Director Joseph Petrosino said in a statement.

"We are looking for microbial associations with disease onset at the organism and genetic levels," he added.

The sequencing and genomic analysis for the project will be conducted by the Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center.

The data from the TEDDY initiative will be managed at the data coordinating center at USF in Tampa.

"TEDDY looks forward to the integration of the data to be produced at BCM with other genetics and exposure data as we attempt to unravel the causes of type 1 diabetes," said USF Professor Jeffrey Krischer, who is TEDDY's co-chair.

Petrosino said that more than 1 million samples have been collected so far to support the study, and that CMMR's efforts will focus on conducting microbiome analyses of 18,000 samples. Those findings will be compiled with other results and data from the study.

"Finding a potential viral trigger would be the Holy Grail of this kind of work, as it could lead to a preventive intervention. We also hope the data will help us to develop better diagnostic tools to monitor the progression to type 1 diabetes," Petrosino explained. "Results from the systems biology approach TEDDY is following, that is, parallel studies in other ‘omics’ — transcriptomics, metabolomics — fields as well as in the areas of immunology, toxicology, and epidemiology will hopefully reveal novel ways in which we can detect, treat, and perhaps prevent type 1 diabetes in the future."