The human gut harbours a vast diversity of microbial cells, collectively known as the gut microbiota. Co-evolution between humans and our gut microbiota has lead to complex and dynamic relationships that are crucial for health and dysfunctional in some of the most prevalent chronic diseases. Until recently culture dependent methods have limited our ability to study the microbiota in depth including its collective genomes, the microbiome.
The combination of advances in culture independent sequencing technologies and support by major international funding programs has recently made the human microbiome a subject of intense research. Advances in this field are rapidly extending our understanding of the role of the microbiome in health and its contribution to multiple diseases. The microbiome is therefore an efficient and novel potential therapeutic target for both the treatment and prevention of diseases where causal relationships can be determined. However, the sheer size and complexity of microbiome datasets, coupled with the difficulty in capturing microbiome phenotype poses important challenges in computational biology.
In collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline the aim of this project is to use e-sciences technology combined with analysis pipelines to determine how metagenomics datasets can be used in drug discovery with two major aims; to target therapeutic interventions for disorders of the microbiota and to define how current pharmaceuticals are interacting with the microbiota.