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UCB & Harvard to ‘mine the human microbiome’

Posted by
France Nivelle, Corporate Communications & Change Support
How many bacteria do you have in your intestines? And, more importantly, what role do these tiny microbes play in your health?
The answer to the first question is around 100 trillion. Finding answers to the second question will be the focus of a new collaborative research project between UCB and Harvard named ‘Mining the Human Microbiome’.

When we talk about the microbiome, we mean the trillions of bacteria living in a particular place – such as your intestines – as well as their genetics and how they interact with their environment.

Scientists know that the microbes in our intestines play a role in how our immune system works so deepening our understanding of this mini-universe could lead to new ways of strengthening the immune system or of preventing things from going wrong.

The new three-year project, to which UCB will provide up to $4.5 million, will study the microbiome in the human intestine, classifying new species and studying their impact on the immune system in order to identify new drugs for preventing or treating immunological diseases.

This is the third collaborative project UCB has launched with Harvard, building on the research alliance created in 2011.

The first project aims to generate and develop antibodies against an exciting target with potential applications in a range of diseases including diabetes and metabolic disorders. The second looks at how the body’s natural way of ‘auto-digesting’ damaged or old parts of cells could have applications in treating neurodegenerative diseases.

In each of these examples we are pairing UCB’s know-how and experience of drug discovery and medicinal chemistry with Harvard’s knowledge and expertise at the cutting-edge of science and technology.

The partnership reflects the commitment of both UCB and Harvard to building bridges between academia and industry to advance science and health. For UCB, this is a living example of our ongoing support for R&D and our belief that open innovation can deliver new therapies which improve people’s lives.

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