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Bugs as Drugs: Therapeutic Microbes for the Prevention and Treatment of Disease

Editors: Robert A. Britton1, Patrice D. Cani2
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Affiliations: 1: Baylor College of Medicine, Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Houston, Texas; 2: Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain Drug Research Institute, WELBIO, Walloon Excellence in Life Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
Content Type: Monograph
Format: Hardcover, Electronic
Publication Year: 2018

Category: Clinical Microbiology; General Interest

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Associations between the composition of the intestinal microbiome and many human diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and cancer, have been elegantly described in the past decade. Now, whole-genome sequencing, bioinformatics, and precision gene-editing techniques are being combined with centuries-old therapies, such as fecal microbiota transplantation, to translate current research into new diagnostics and therapeutics to treat complex diseases. provides a much-needed overview of microbes in therapies and will serve as an excellent resource for scientists and clinicians as they carry out research and clinical studies on investigating the roles the microbiota plays in health and disease.

In , editors Robert A. Britton and Patrice D. Cani have assembled a fascinating collection of reviews that chart the history, current efforts, and future prospects of using microorganisms to fight disease and improve health. Sections cover traditional uses of probiotics, next-generation microbial therapeutics, controlling infectious diseases, and indirect strategies for manipulating the host microbiome. Topics presented include:

  • by improving the composition of the intestinal microbiota of the host and by modulating the host immune response.
  • For example, engineering that improves the anti-inflammatory profile of probiotics can reduce the number of colonic polyps formed, and lactobacilli can be transformed into targeted delivery systems carrying therapeutic proteins or bioengineered bacteriophage.
  • The gut microbiota has been proposed to serve as an organ involved in regulation of inflammation, immune function, and energy homeostasis.
  • Practical considerations for using fecal microbiota transplantation are provided, while it is acknowledged that more high-quality evidence is needed to ascertain the importance of strain specificity in positive treatment outcomes.

Because systems biology approaches and synthetic engineering of microbes are now high-throughput and cost-effective, a much wider range of therapeutic possibilities can be explored and vetted.

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