Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Elucidating Mechanisms Through Which the Gut Microbiome Can Be Optimized Across the Human Lifespan

Nathan D. Price, PhD | Institute for Systems Biology; Sean Gibbons, PhD | Institute for Systems Biology; Leroy Hood, MD, PhD | Institute for Systems Biology and Providence St. Joseph Health; and Eric Orwoll, MD | Oregon Health Sciences University
Competition Sponsor: U.S. National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2020

The gut microbiome has important effects on human health, yet its roles in human aging remain largely unclear. We have recently demonstrated (paper submitted) that, starting in mid-to-late adulthood, gut microbiomes become increasingly unique to each individual with age. At the latest stages of lifespan, two distinct patterns emerge wherein individuals in good health demonstrate continued microbial drift toward a unique compositional state, while the same drift is absent in individuals who perform worse on a number of validated health measures. Consistently, having low gut microbial uniqueness, including retaining a high Bacteroides dominance into old age, predicts decreased survival. We hypothesize that gut microbiome uniqueness is an intriguing new dimension to healthy aging, and a critical new component for personalized medicine and precision health to enhance healthspan. We propose a strategy to elucidate the functional differences that are brought about by these individual paths towards uniqueness, and also whether gut microbial aging trajectories can likely be optimized through interventions. We will also explore how these microbiome functional trajectories relate to known mechanisms affecting aging and longevity. Elucidating mechanisms through which the gut microbiome can be optimized across the human lifespan will have important clinical implications for healthy aging, longevity and personalized medicine.  Our phase 1 studies would provide the data needed for the larger follow-up studies that would focus on additional experimental validation (phase 2) and then deployment of microbiome-focused strategies for modifying health via in a clinical trial (phase 3).

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View this project poster, first displayed at the 2021 Global Innovator Summit.

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