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From Gut Bugs to Health

Companies are getting into the gut microbiome and how tweaking it could affect health and disease, the Economist reports.

It notes that the bugs of the microbiome typically are "partners of humanity," but adds that "when that partnership goes wrong, the results can be dreadful." The Economist notes that diseases ranging from autism to diabetes and from chronic fatigue syndrome to multiple sclerosis have all been linked to dysbiosis of the gut microbiome.

Companies like Rebiotix are refining fecal microbiome transplants to treat recalcitrant C. difficile infections, while others like Seres Therapeutics are homing in on certain members of the microbiome to shift its overall balance, it says. Likewise, the Economist reports that EpiBiome and Eligo Biosciences are working on ways to attack particular bacteria within the microbiome with phages to act as a highly targeted antibiotic.

Additionally, it writes that Blue Turtle Bio and Synlogic are working on ways to edit bacterial genomes so that they can deliver missing enzymes as a means of treating their hosts that have a genetic disease. Finally, pharmaceutical companies are examining chemicals that microbes produce to affect health status, the Economist notes.

The Scan

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