This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday January 11, 2016

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 week, making headlines in the section of drug discovery and development was the strategic collaboration between Japan based Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd and France based Enterome Bioscience SA. The alliance will focus on the development of potential new therapeutics directed at microbiome targets that are believed to play key roles in gastrointestinal disorders, including inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, and motility disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. The French firm will use its proprietary metagenomic platform to support the discovery of potential novel agents derived from gut bacteria and directed to the GI targets selected by both the companies. Takeda will have exclusive, global license options on selected agents and will lead their regulatory and clinical development and commercialization efforts. The press release was covered by Drugtarget Review, GEN News, The Financial and Pharmaceutical Business Review amongst others.

In a new, first of its kind study conducted in a natural environment, researchers from the University of Guelph have demonstrated a link between stress and microbiome diversity in the wild. Researchers tested squirrel microbiomes and analyzed the animals' stress hormones and found that red squirrels living in a low-stress environment harbour healthier and more diverse communities of micro-organisms, a result that might hold implications for human health. “A diverse microbiome is generally a good thing for your health - it's why people take probiotics," said lead researcher Mason Stothart, a former undergraduate student in the Department of Integrative Biology. The study published in the journal Biology Letters was picked up by several media outlets including, eScience News, Canada Journal and EurekAlert.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT), a new diagnostic tool will now enable the hospital medical staff to more quickly visualize the presence of pneumonia-related biofilm deposited in critical care patients’ endotracheal tubes thus lessening the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia, reports a new research published in the latest issue of the Journal of Biomedical Optics. Biofilm has been linked to ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), which is a prevalent infection in hospital intensive care units (ICUs). Using OCT, a team of researchers from the University of California Irvine, the Beckman Laser Institute, and N8 Medical were able to visualize and assess the extent of airway obstruction from biofilm deposited on intubated endotracheal tubes in vivo. The current method for biofilm characterization utilizes scanning electron microscopy (SEM), a lengthy process that requires extracting a sample, drying it, and coating it with a thin gold layer, none of which can be performed in vivo. OCT, on the other hand, is a noninvasive imaging technology that can provide high-resolution cross-sectional images of various biological samples, and can be adapted to provide three-dimensional volumetric information. Read the press release here.

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