The Million Microbiomes of Humans Project (MMHP), an ambitious effort among 21 institutions and more than 10 participating nations to advance metagenomics access for all with the construction of the world's largest human microbiome database, has doubled the number of samples sequenced in the last six months for a current total of 130,000, according to the latest update disclosed by the MMHP Consortium.
Officially launched at the International Conference on Genomics in 2019, the MMHP aims to sequence and analyze microbial DNA from one million human samples in three to five years, focusing on feces and saliva, to construct a microbiomic map of the human body — primarily using MGI’s DNBSEQ sequencing technology. The project aims to not only promote the field of human microbiomics but also propel it further by linking collaborators around the world.
As part of the MMHP, human microbial samples will continue to be dispatched for sequencing to core labs — which represent the main founding members of the project and the driving force behind the consortium — and additional non-member processing sites, known as reference labs. All sequencing has been done on MGI’s platforms, including the medium-throughput benchtop DNBSEQ-G400* sequencer, the rapid and ultra-high-throughput DNBSEQ-T7*, and the DNBSEQ-T10×4RS* for large-scale and ultra-high-throughput scenarios.
“Leveraging advancements in NGS technology, MMHP aims to accelerate and advance metagenomics research,” said Lars Engstrand, co-chair of the MMHP Consortium and research director of the Center for Microbial Translational Research at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. “One of the key focus areas has been on innovating and utilizing an optimal workflow that can be deployed at scale. This allows all members access to a streamlined process, catalyzing the development of a high-quality and comprehensive atlas of the gut microbiome, enriched with meaningful data.”
Relying mainly on MGI’s microbial genome sequencing technology, AmbioGen of the Karolinska Institute, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and MetaGenoPolis in France are among some of the core labs powering the majority of metagenomics sequencing to accelerate discoveries and innovations in the field, while reference labs, such as ALACRiS Theranostics in Germany and Nahibu in France, play an assisting role.
In parallel with sample collection, the MMHP Consortium is also in the process of finalizing the standardized technical workflow — to be augmented by a high-throughput, automated MGI-powered pipeline — to ensure smooth, optimized, and reliable processing. From sample transfer to sequencing, including DNA extraction and library preparation, this workflow will align all crucial components across sequencing experiments and guarantee the quality of all data generated.
“Recognizing the importance of human microbiome composition in health, it is easily understandable that microbiome analysis will be increasingly integrated into our healthcare practices,” said Professor Stanislav Dusko Ehrlich, co-chair of the MMHP Consortium and professor at University College London. “Consequently, it has become imperative to enhance our understanding of this intricate microbial world. By disseminating the technology and expediting the adoption of this emerging field, we aim to shed light on its vast potential for innovative healthcare solutions.”
As the scientific community is increasingly embracing metagenomics for its speed and precision compared to conventional techniques, the international MMHP Consortium is committed to sharing its knowledge and expertise through technological transfer to reference labs. Leveraging MGI’s technology and complete workflow, combined with the members’ support, the MMHP aims to continue to empower the reference lab network in 2024 and make metagenomics accessible for all.
Analysis of the performance of MGI’s DNBSEQ-based sequencing platforms for the first 10,000 samples of the MMHP also confirmed high intra-platform reproducibility and a high level of consistency with sequencers by other providers. With no clonal errors or index hopping, as well as higher signal density than regular DNA arrays, DNBSEQ reportedly featured a balance of throughput and high-quality data compared to other sequencers. Equipped with DNBSEQ technology, participating institutions will benefit from an expanded offering and capacity in metagenomics, which can help further relevant research and precision health.
In addition to access to a standardized microbiome analysis protocol and MGI’s shotgun metagenomic sequencing technology, other perks of participating in the MMHP include early access to consortium-generated data and co-authorship on numerous anticipated published research papers.
Continuing on its journey towards sequencing and analyzing a final total of one million samples, the project welcomes participation from individual institutions and research groups in the medical, scientific, and industrial sectors to jointly contribute to the study of the microbiome in human health and disease and drive metagenomics access for better global health.
* For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures (except as specifically noted).