Article | February 12, 2020
In our lab, we focus on the impact of the gut microbiome on human health and disease. To evaluate this relationship, it’s important to understand the particular functions that different bacteria have. As bacteria are able to exchange, duplicate, and rearrange their genes in ways that directly affect their phenotypes, complete bacterial genomes assembled directly from human samples are essential to understand the strain variation and potential functions of the bacteria we host. Advances in the microbiome space have allowed for the de novo assembly of microbial genomes directly from metagenomes via short-read sequencing, assembly of reads into contigs, and binning of contigs into putative genome drafts. This is advantageous because it allows us to discover microbes without culturing them, directly from human samples and without reference databases. In the past year, there have been a number of tour de force efforts to broadly characterize the human gut microbiota through the creation of such metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs)[1–4]. These works have produced hundreds of thousands of microbial genomes that vastly increase our understanding of the human gut. However, challenges in the assembly of short reads has limited our ability to correctly assemble repeated genomic elements and place them into genomic context. Thus, existing MAGs are often fragmented and do not include mobile genetic elements, 16S rRNA sequences, and other elements that are repeated or have high identity within and across bacterial genomes.
Article | February 24, 2020
The year 2020 marks a decade since the term pharmacomicrobiomics was coined (Rizkallah et al., 2010) to crystallize a century-old concept of mutual interactions between humans, drugs, and the microbial world. The human microbiome, with its immense metabolic potential that exceeds and expands the human metabolic capacities, has the ability to modulate pharmacotherapy by affecting both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drug molecules:
Article | April 3, 2020
The integration of artificial intelligence within life sciences is making drug discovery and development more innovative, less labor intensive and more cost-effective, says Deloitte’s annual global outlook. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Life Sciences Outlook, the biotech sector is at an inflection point. To prepare for the future and remain relevant in the ever-evolving business landscape, biopharma and medtech organizations will be looking for new ways to create value and new metrics to make sense of today’s wealth of data, the report overview says. As data-driven technologies provide biopharma and medtech organizations with treasure troves of information, and automation takes over some mundane tasks, new talent models are emerging based on purpose and meaning. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning approaches within life sciences is making drug discovery and development more innovative, time-effective and cost-effective, the Deloitte report states.
Article | April 9, 2020
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to begin human clinical trials on their lead COVID-19 therapeutic candidate, an mRNA vaccine, by the end of this month, the companies said today, through a collaboration that could generate up to $748 million for the German biotech. The companies announced plans last month to partner on BNT162, the first treatment to emerge from BioNTech’s accelerated COVID-19-focused development program, “Project Lightspeed.” BioNTech and Pfizer established collaboration intended to draw upon BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA vaccine platforms, and Pfizer’s expertise in vaccine research and development, regulatory capabilities, and global manufacturing and distribution network.