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NIH ramps up Human Microbiome Project
Date:9/7/2010

The National Institutes of Health today announced it has awarded approximately $42 million to expand the scope of eight demonstration projects designed to link changes in the human microbiome to health and disease. The funds will also support investigators to develop innovative technologies to improve the identification and characterization of microbial communities of the human microbiome.

The human microbiome comprises all the microorganisms that reside in or on the human body. It consists of beneficial and harmful microbes that include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes.

The expanded disease demonstration projects are part of the Human Microbiome Project, a $157 million, five-year effort launched in 2008 as part of the NIH Common Fund's Roadmap for Medical Research. The project will produce a resource for researchers seeking to understand the function of the human microbiome in health and disease and to provide strategies to develop new therapies that manipulate the human microbiome to improve health.

In 2009, the project funded 15 year-long pilot disease demonstration projects that sampled the microbiomes of healthy volunteers and volunteers with specific diseases at body sites thought to have a microbiome association. The seven body sites sampled were the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose, the vagina, the blood and the male urethra. After one year, each pilot project was evaluated based on progress toward milestones and the ability of each study to demonstrate a definable relationship between a body site microbiome and a specific disease.

"Preliminary evidence from several of the project's pilot demonstration disease projects suggests that a significant relationship exists between changes in the human microbiome and human health and disease," said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., co-chair of the Human Microbiome Project's Implementation Group.
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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