However, with this understanding comes a vast array of data that according to Dirk Hadrich needs to be combined with patient information in order to better understand disease.
Speaking at the recent Probiota event in Copenhagen, the EC’s policy and programme officer spoke of an emerging trend that looks to combine metagenomics with clinical and lifestyle data in order to determine how they interplayed with the microbiome.
“In the past, we have been looking at individual diseases, now we are adopting a ‘predict and prevent’ approach that includes diagnostic tools and point-of-care devices that can be used with smartphones to predict disease onset.”
Pooling financial & human resources
The influx of data quantities and types of data from multiple sources is providing much food for thought for the EC, which are now looking to consolidate the assortment of data collecting and mining methods.
“It’s a difficult exercise,” Dr Hadrich explains. “We need collaboration at the international level. It is not enough that a few research centres that gather data of 400 or so patients.
“We need to pool financial and human resources at international level as well as taking into account data form other countries.”
As Dr Hadrich emphasises, the microbiome remains one of the most exciting research areas due to its hidden diversity and its functionalities.
With links to many diseases of the skin and heart amongst others, Dr Hadrich believes there is huge potential especially microbe mechanisms of actions, disease origins and how the microbiome interacts in its onset.