Data mining the human gut microbiota for therapeutic targets

It is well known that microbes have an intricate role in human health and disease. However, targeted strategies for modulating human health through the modification of either human-associated microbial communities or associated human-host targets have yet to be realized. New knowledge about the role of microbial communities in the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and their collective genomes, the GIT microbiome, in chronic diseases opens new opportunities for therapeutic interventions. GIT microbiota participation in drug metabolism is a further pharmaceutical consideration. In this review, we discuss how computational methods could lead to a systems-level understanding of the global physiology of the host-microbiota superorganism in health and disease. Such knowledge will provide a platform for the identification and development of new therapeutic strategies for chronic diseases possibly involving microbial as well as human-host targets that improve upon existing probiotics, prebiotics or antibiotics. In addition, integrative bioinformatics analysis will further our understanding of the microbial biotransformation of exogenous compounds or xenobiotics, which could lead to safer and more efficacious drugs.

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