The new model, developed by researchers at the University of Luxembourg, is called HuMiX, for “Human-Microbial X(cross)-talk.”
According to the researchers, HuMiX is the only model that is able to replicate microorganisms in the gut, while also allowing the study of their impact on human cell physiology.
The model was created to study interactions, in vitro, between the microbiome and the human host.
Insight derived from the model will allow researchers to gain a better understanding of whether changes in the gut’s microbiome cause disease, or if they are a result of a disease. It also allows drug to be pre-screened on patient-derived cells in order to observe its affects and has significant implications in drug development.
“Insights into the function of the human microbiome are a key to our understanding of human health and disease,” Prof. Dr. Paul Wilmes, Principal Investigator at Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg and senior author on the paper.
“By mimicking its function and the repercussions of distinct microbiota on human cells, we are now able to better understand the gut microbiome and also how it reacts to for example distinct drugs or dietary regimes,” he added.
Dr. Pranjul Shah, now Business Development and Innovation Expert at the LCSB and first author of the study, explained “The human microbiome market is one of the fastest growing niche markets at the interface of therapeutics and diagnostics.”
In fact, according to a report by Markets and Markets, the industry is expected to reach $658m by 2023.
“HuMiX is well positioned to be an enabling technology for a range of drug discovery programs at newly funded start-ups, pharma as well as nutraceutical companies. It has the potential to help further understand and consequently aid in the discovery of new treatments for obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases," added Shah.