This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday December 21st, 2015

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

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This research paper published in Cell was highlighted by several media outlets including the Northern Californian, NY City News, ScienceDaily and GenNews . A study shows for the first time that one can target a gut microbial pathway to inhibit atherosclerosis. Trimethylamine (TMA) N-oxide (TMAO), a gut-microbiota-dependent metabolite, both enhances atherosclerosis in animal models and is associated with cardiovascular risks in humans. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have identified a novel compound that is naturally abundant in some cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and grape seed oils, which interfere with the metabolic activity of gut microbes, preventing them from turning unhealthy foods into metabolic byproducts (TMA) linked to atherosclerosis.

Another paper picked up by Scicasts and Nanowerk News was published in Nature’s open access journal Scientific Reports. The researchers from the University of New South Wales have found that by injecting iron oxide nanoparticles into the biofilms, and using an applied magnetic field to heat them - which induces local hyperthermia through raising the temperature by 5°C or more - the biofilms were triggered into dispersing and dislodging from their protective matrix, making them vulnerable to treatment with antibiotics. The study has pointed to a new pathway for the non-toxic dispersal of biofilms in infected tissue, while also greatly improving the effect of antibiotic therapies.

The Swiss Pharma giant, Novartis was in news this week for signing up as the strategic pharma investor in a leading Paris-based venture capital firm, Seventure Partners' microbiome fund. Over the last two years Seventure has been playing angel to the microbiome field, backing several food and med-tech companies. Seventure's ability to raise 33% more than it initially targeted is a reflection of the fast advance of microbiome research in recent years. “ Large worldwide pharmaceutical groups are increasingly interested in the microbiome field in anticipation of finding new ways to conduct research and developing drugs with accompanying diagnostics; especially for infectious and gastrointestinal diseases, and other indications, as well as immuno-oncology approaches”, said Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO and Managing Partner of Seventure.

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

Richa Dandona

Partnerships and Operations Manager, Nature Partner Journals, Nature Research