- By Sam Smith
Mayo Clinic and Whole Biome Announce Collaboration: Joint Development of Microbiome Diagnostic Testing to Focus on Women’s Health and Preterm Labor
ROCHESTER, Minn., and SAN FRANCISCO — The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine and Whole Biome today announced a collaboration to develop microbiome targeted diagnostic testing, beginning in Women’s Health, with a focus on preterm labor. Preterm birth is the most common cause of infant death and is the leading cause of long-term disability in children, according to the National Institutes of Health. Many preterm births may be delayed or prevented with microbiome-based testing and intervention, according to Mayo Clinic experts.
“Understanding the microbiome, and translating that understanding into enhanced patient care is a major goal within the Center for Individualized Medicine,” says Heidi Nelson, M.D., director of the center’s Microbiome Program. “Our early work suggests the microbiome may play a significant role in triggering preterm labor, and we are excited to take these early results into clinical trials with Whole Biome’s analytics platform.”
“This collaboration is bringing together the clinical expertise of Mayo Clinic with our innovative diagnostic tools,” says Colleen Cutcliffe, CEO of Whole Biome. “Together, we plan to transform affordable and detailed microbiome information into tools that will improve patient health and their lives.”
Whole Biome’s Complete Biome Test is able to generate microbiome profiles with strain-level resolution at a low cost, enabling researchers and physicians to more rapidly conduct large-scale studies and produce effective microbiome diagnostics to help predict, treat and prevent life-threatening issues.
The microbiome is defined as all of the microbes that reside on the inside and outside of each individual. A person’s body contains 10-times more microbial cells than human cells. Humans have co-evolved with microbiomes and house many microbes that are beneficial for health. However, the human race has been systematically depleting these “good” microbes in an attempt to eradicate the harmful ones through use of antibiotics, antibacterial processes and prolific antimicrobial consumer products. For decades, researchers have known that the microbiome represents a wealth of opportunity in shaping health, but only recently have the genomic and analysis tools been available to make this a reality.
The Center for Individualized Medicine is collaborating with Whole Biome to accelerate the development of novel diagnostics that characterize the microbiome. Whole Biome utilizes sample preparation techniques and specialized analytics that integrate high throughput and long read-length DNA sequencing data to generate high-accuracy microbiome profiles that enable the identification of relevant changes.
The initial focus will be in Women’s Health. Unbalanced vaginal microbiomes have been implicated in a variety of medical issues, including yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and preterm labor. The collaboration’s goal will be to develop a microbiome-based diagnostic test for early indication of preterm labor.
About Mayo Clinic
Recognizing 150 years of serving humanity in 2014, Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit 150years.mayoclinic.org, http://www.mayoclinic.org and newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org.
About The Center for Individualized Medicine
The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is home to the Individualized Medicine Clinic, the world’s first integrated multidisciplinary genomics clinic, serving patients with advanced cancer and complex diagnoses. The center discovers and integrates the latest in genomic, molecular and clinical sciences into personalized care for each Mayo Clinic patient. Visit http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/center-for-individualized-medicine for more information, or visit our blog at http://individualizedmedicineblog.mayoclinic.org/.
About Whole Biome
Whole Biome Inc. is a microbiome company focused on enabling better patient care through a comprehensive understanding and a targeted equilibration of human microbiomes. Whole Biome is currently developing diagnostics and therapeutics with leading physicians and researchers that target the microbiome. Our mission is to be the gold standard in diagnostics and therapeutic development through our proprietary Complete Biome TestTM, a novel microbiome diagnostic discovery platform. Leveraging the signaling properties of the microbial ecosystem for a diverse array of clinical conditions, our test allows physicians, researchers and biopharmaceutical companies to rapidly discover novel biomarkers and to develop targeted therapeutics for their area of interest. Whole Biome is one of the select companies at Janssen Labs @QB3, based in San Francisco.