Sharmila Mande, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist and Head, Bio Sciences R&D, TCS Innovation Labs, Pune
Gut microbiome and health: Moving towards the new era of translational medicine
The microbes inhabiting our body outnumber our own cells by a factor of 10. The genomes of these microbes, called the ‘second genome’ are therefore expected to have great influence on our health and well being. The emerging field of metagenomics is rapidly becoming the method of choice for studying the microbial community (called microbiomes) present in various parts of the human body. Recent studies have implicated the role of gut microbiomes in several diseases and disorders. Studies have indicated gut microbiome’s role in nutrient absorption, immuno-modulation motor-response, and other key physiological processes. However, our understanding of the role of gut microbiota in malnutrition is currently incomplete. Exploration of these aspects are likely to help in understanding the microbial basis for several physiological disorders associated with malnutrition (eg, increased susceptibility to diarrhoeal pathogens) and may finally aid in devising appropriate probiotic strategies addressing this menace. A metagenomic approach was employed for analysing the differences between gut microbial communities obtained from malnourished and healthy children. Results of the analysis using TCS’ ‘Metagenomic Analysis Platform’ were discussed in detail during my talk.