New report 'The Human Intestinal Microbiome - Therapies and Diagnostics: The Science, Opportunities and Challenges' published
This deep dive report reviews the landscape of human gut microbiome research and innovation in the UK, focusing on the science, opportunities, and challenges of developing human intestinal microbiome therapies and diagnostics.
It builds on UK’s unique life sciences research strengths in clinical research, genomics and health data capabilities highlighted in UK Life Science Vision 2021 and aligns with Innovate UK’s Building the Future Economy – Plan for Action for UK Business Innovation 2021-2015.
The report shows that the UK has a leading position in human microbiome science and innovation. It calls for investment in and further strengthening the UK’s unique life science infrastructure and capabilities to create an ideal environment for microbiome companies to start, grow and invest and address significant healthcare challenges, including cancer, autoimmune, gastrointestinal, neurodegenerative, infectious and cardiometabolic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, obesity, and mental health.
What does the report cover?
- Therapies and Diagnostics, including faecal microbiota-derived treatments, live biotherapeutic products, other modalities, diagnostics, biomarkers and nutritional interventions.
- An overview of the market opportunity and sector development and how the UK compares to other countries.
- Current infrastructure and innovation support
- Regulatory standards and biobanking
- Intellectual property challenges and opportunities
- The creation of a Microbiome Bioprocess Innovation Centre with pharma GMP-certified facilities focused on manufacturing development and scale-up of live biotherapeutic products and other microbiome therapeutic modalities.
- Found a Microbiome Innovation Hub for entrepreneurs to access end-to-end guidance and signposting for support in financing, regulatory, IP, preclinical studies, clinical trials and manufacturing.
- Setting up a microbiome skills and training network platform, to upskill, retrain and allow people to transfer from other sectors.
- Establishing a UK Microbiome Bank, akin to the UK Biobank, for conserving and preserving the biodiversity of microbiomes, with the added role of setting standards for sampling and associated analyses and storage.
- A drug-microbiome interaction centre should be considered by the funding bodies as there is increasing evidence of the role played by the microbiome in the efficacy and side effects of major drug therapies.
- Funding support directed towards:
- Larger multidisciplinary programmes through integration of the UK’s best key opinion leaders in microbiome and target disease areas.
- Innovation support for spin-out ideas, start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs.
- Clinical microbiome-based diagnostics funding competition supported by, for example, Innovate UK or NIHR i4i programme.
- Microbiome-focused doctoral and apprenticeship training courses.
- An annual microbiome research exchange conference to showcase research excellence in the microbiome space to national and international industry representatives as well as to early-stage investors.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to all of the report contributors, comprising twenty-eight leading industrial and academic scientists working in the field of the human microbiome. Writing a report of this scope, depth, and serious intent requires not only people who are highly knowledgeable within the field but also able to step up to the challenge, come together, give of their time and create a document with recommendations we can all stand behind.
– Dr. Andrew Morgan, Chair of Innovate UK KTN Microbiome Advisory Board and Dr. Gabriela Juarez Martinez, Innovate UK KTN – Microbiome Innovation Lead.