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Tweaks Here and There to the Microbiome

Dozens of companies and researchers are focusing on developing products aimed at altering the human microbiome, New Scientist writes. The Janssen Human Microbiome Institute's Dirk Gevers tells it that there's more than a billion dollars invested in the field.

Some of drugs aimed at changing the gut or skin microbiome are already on the market as food supplements or cosmetics, New Scientist adds. For example, it says OptiBiotix sells snack bars that influence glucose metabolism, while Microbiome Therapeutics is to begin offering a smoothie mix later this year to regulate blood sugar. Similarly, AOBiome has been testing a spray to control acne.

Other new microbiome-focused drugs under development draw on older therapies, like fecal microbiome transplants for Clostridium difficile infections, for inspiration, it adds. At the University of Guelph, for instance, Emma Allen-Vercoe is attempting to tease out which bacteria are the ones needed to have the beneficial effect so that they can be put into a capsule, while others are trying to find ingredients that boost the growth of bacteria, such as those that digest lactose, for people who cannot digest dairy, New Scientist says.

"This field is moving faster than any other field we've seen," Gevers adds.