Microbiome – The Next Frontier in Medicine

Product name:Microbiome - The Next

2018/09/27 update

Industry:Daily News

HONG KONG, Sep 26, 2018 - (ACN Newswire) - Earlier this year the Hong Kong Exchange updated its listing rules to include pre-revenue biotech stocks for the first time as it seeks to compete with NASDAQ for the sector's IPOs. Eager to access the Hong Kong capital market, there is a growing list of global pre-revenue hopefuls lining up to list in the city. For risk tolerant investors, biotech companies with promising pipelines offer a potential for high returns as drug development is a big-money business. With a growing global population and no shortage of diseases to be treated, global drug sales are expected to grow from $1.1 trillion in 2016 to $1.5 trillion by 2021.

Against this backdrop, microbiome based therapies and its development is one of the promising areas worth of our attention with greater potential investment returns.

For many years, common wisdom was that bacteria were bad and to stay healthy we needed to diligently disinfect our hands and environment. This war on bacteria has also led to an increasing use of antibiotics and antimicrobials during the past century. However, new information on how microbes such as bacteria interact with the human body is transforming the medical community's understanding of our relationship with this invisible universe. An estimated 100 trillion microbes, primarily bacteria, fungi and viruses have recently been discovered living both inside and on our bodies. This ecosystem, called the human microbiome, has co-evolved with us over thousands of years and not only do we live in harmony with most of these bacteria, but many of them are actually critical to our survival. While estimates vary, it is believed that the majority of the microbial members of the microbiome are benign or beneficial to human health. However, modern lifestyle practices including an obsession with cleanliness and the use of too many antibiotics and antibacterial soap, has declared war on these beneficial bacteria. Recently, these imbalances in the microbiome have been associated with many modern diseases such as asthma, allergies, and various inflammatory diseases. Conversely, scientists have discovered that families that live in microbe-rich environments, like farms, have lower rates of allergies and autoimmune inflammation.

While scientists are in the early stage of understanding the microbiome, research on the microbiome and its relationship to maintaining good health is rapidly expanding. In addition to research being conducted by academic and non-profit institutions, the enthusiasm around the potential use of the microbiome to treat diseases is opening the floodgates for drug development companies. Worldwide, it is estimated that the microbiome therapeutics industry will grow to US$10.4 billion by 2030. This promising new research is being conducted on a variety of microbial communities including the microbiome present in and on the human gut, lung, brain and skin.

In addition to the work being performed on the gut and other microbiomes, it is expected that some of the earliest microbiome based therapies to be available will be ones treating some of the most common skin diseases. The skin is the largest organ in the body and the first and best defense to external aggressors and a healthy skin microbiome is an essential component to this barrier function. However, when the barrier is broken, the balance of the microbiome can be disrupted and harmful bacteria can flourish. Scientists are actively studying the microbes living on the skin to learn how they are altered in various diseases with the hopes of treating common ailments such as acne, eczema, and rosacea. Each year, up to 50 million people in the United States are affected by acne, making it the most common skin condition in the country. Currently, the predominant clinical treatment for acne is antibiotics, and while they can temporarily reduce the levels of harmful bacteria present on the skin, they also remove healthy bacteria and disrupt the natural skin microbiome. In contrast to this nuclear option, many researchers are looking to leverage the natural microbiome to treat acne. In addition to acne, an imbalanced skin microbiome has also been linked to eczema and rosacea. Eczema is a particularly serious malady since its prevalence is rising in infants and toddlers and is a known risk factor for other autoimmune diseases like asthma and allergies while rosacea is a chronic skin-condition that affects over 400 million people worldwide. As with acne, current treatments for eczema and rosacea do not support the natural skin microbiome and many have undesirable side effects. As such, excitement around developing novel microbiome therapies is extremely high as many scientists believe they have potential to someday not only treat common dermatological conditions but to actually transform the treatment of major diseases.





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