Author: Jessica Miles

Jackson Laboratory Hosts Microbiome Symposium Related to Cancer and Immunology

Early last month, the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT held its second annual symposium “Microbiome Meets Cancer and Immunology.” This year’s event came on the heels of the formation of the Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI), a consortium of microbiome researchers from across the country that includes JAX Professor and Director for Microbial Genomics George Weinstock.

Unified Microbiome Initiative Seeks to Understand and Harness the Capabilities of the Microbiome

Recognizing the potential of microbiome research to improve human health and generate novel technologies, a consortium of microbiome researchers from across the country announced the formation of the Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI). The group, which includes George Weinstock, Professor and Director for Microbial Genomics at The Jackson Laboratory, made their announcement in the October 30 issue of Science. To advance microbiome research, the UMI calls for the development of new technologies and tools, including improved DNA sequencing, computational, and imaging methods. The UMI also advocates for additional and sustained collaboration among scientists in the field.

The Emergent Microbiome: A Revolution for the Life Sciences – Part III, Psychobiotics

Research into the microbiome focuses heavily on bacteria living in the gut, which houses more bacteria than any other organ. These bacteria are being studied not only because they play a role in gastrointestinal disorders like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s Disease, and colorectal cancer, but also because they can influence diverse and distal organs. The gut-brain-axis – the term for the neurochemical pathway between the intestine and the brain – is a prominent example of such a relationship. As the research is starting to progress in this area, we are also beginning to see patents relating to this area.

UPDATE: US Patent Office Subject Matter Guidance – July 2015

Last December, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued the “2014 Interim Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility” as further guidance to its examining corps for assessing patent eligible subject matter of claims reciting or involving laws of nature, natural phenomena, and natural products under 35 USC §101. The guidelines were issued in light of the high-profile Supreme Court decisions in Alice Corp., Myriad, and Mayo. Dr. Anthony Sabatelli, partner and chair of Dilworth IP’s pharmaceutical and biotech patent practice group provided his comments in person at the USPTO in January of this year.

The Emergent Microbiome: A Revolution for the Life Sciences – Part II, 2015 Patent Trends

Microbiome-related therapies typically involve compositions containing bacteria — often called probiotics — that treat disease or promote health. Some therapies change the composition of the gut microbiome by providing desirable bacterial species, nutrients that promote the growth of desirable microbiome members, or bacterial species that displace bacterial pathogens. Other therapies comprise bacteria or bacterial components that interact with the patient’s own organs, tissues, and systems. Many of these therapies stimulate the immune system, and therapies are being developed to treat various metabolic, inflammatory, and infectious diseases.

The Emergent Microbiome: A Revolution for the Life Sciences – Part I, R&D Leaders

Research into the microbiome seeks to characterize the microorganisms that live in and on different environments. Although these environments can be broadly terrestrial, extraterrestrial aquatic, and biological, we often use the term specifically to describe the bacteria living in and on different sites of the human body. The word “microbiome” refers either to the organisms themselves (also called “microbiota”) or their collective genomes. Within the human gut, the most bacteria-rich organ, these genes outnumber those in the human genome 100: 1, providing attractive candidates for pharmaceutical intervention. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), childhood-onset asthma, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea are some of the diseases that involve changes in the composition or loss of the function of the microbiome.