The human microbiome

The associations between bacteria and human hosts have been shaped by eons of evolution. Recent studies have revealed that virtually every surface of the human body is teeming with bacteria, including the mouth, airways, skin, urinary tract and intestines. The organisms that constitute the human microbiome are thought to number over 10,000 different species, and are rapidly being characterized both genomically and immunologically.

Over the past few years, a new paradigm has emerged of how these symbiotic microbes interact with the human immune system. Recent studies by our company’s founders have shown that the human immune system is actively suppressed by powerful bacterial molecules that exert broad effects on the host. The process of understanding the specific bacterial molecules involved in these interactions is just now beginning, and will be giving rise to entirely new therapeutic strategies.

The first molecule to result from these efforts has now emerged, having been discovered by our company’s scientific founders to be a powerful immunomodulator capable of shaping T-cell mediated immune responses. In a landmark series of papers, our scientific founders described the immunology and protective role of a specific molecule produced by the gut commensal, Bacteroides fragilis, which now is being developed by Symbiotix as the basis of an entirely new approach to treating immune-mediated disease.