​This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday November 9, 2015

A round-up of what we read last week in the media's coverage of biofilms and microbiomes research.

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‘This living clothing morphs when you sweat’, announced WIRED this week, in its profile of Second Skin, a type of clothing developed using research undertaken at MIT. Second Skin “becomes more breathable as the wearer’s body heat and humidity increase”, with flaps in the fabric that open as humidity begins to rise. The fabric comprises a biofilm printed in layers on pieces of spandex, with different patterns in the biofilm causing different behaviours. “For example, to make a piece of fabric curl up, biofilm is applied uniformly across the material; to make the fabric bend more sharply, the film is printed in lines.” The article features fascinating videos of the fabric in action.

This paper from Science was covered by MedicalXpress, highlighting research undertaken by scientists at the Salk Institute into ‘superhero’ bacteria that “live in the gut and move to other parts of the body to alleviate life-threatening side effects caused by infections”. Although the findings have so far been observed only in mice, if also found in humans such ‘superhero bugs’ could be used in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, preventing the damage done by infections rather than attacking the harmful pathogen itself. “Focusing on disease tolerance – preventing harm done by the disease – instead of microbial eradication is a new paradigm of therapy for infectious diseases," said one of the paper’s lead authors, Alexandria Palaferri Schiebe.

Further illustrating the growing value of the microbiome research sector, publishers of news for the biopharma industry, FierceBiotech reported that Flagship Ventures (the group behind “microbiome success story Seres Therapeutics”) is funding, with a $35 million investment, a new start-up, Evelo Therapeutics. The firm “aims to treat cancer by harnessing the power of the body’s many bacterial tenants… identifying and characterizing the many cancer-associated bacteria and bacterial immune activators at play in the body, eyeing a way to modulate tumour metabolism by targeting the microbiome”.

We’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this week. Please comment below.

Jen Thoroughgood

Former Head of Communities, Springer Nature

I'm no longer with Springer Nature so please send your community-related queries to communities@nature.com. Thanks!