Mucins as Regulators of Interspecies Microbial Interactions

Applications

This technology uses mucins to maintain diverse microbial populations and has potential applications as a combination therapy with microbial transplants.

Problem Addressed

The average human body houses trillions of microbes that play an important symbiotic role in maintaining healthy body functions. However, there is a very delicate balance between healthy symbiotic microbes and the more hazardous pathogenic microbes. Perturbations to this equilibrium, such as antibiotic treatment or an infection, can cause permanent detrimental changes to the microbial community that result in susceptibility health problems including infection, inflammatory bowel disease, cavities, and even cancer. Microbial transplants have gained popularity as a treatment option to combat this dysbiosis. This technology stabilizes inter-species microbial interactions and could be used alongside microbial transplants to facilitate maintenance of diverse microbial populations.

Technology

This technology uses mucins to stabilize inter-species interactions in microbial populations. Mucins are naturally produced in the human body to as a protective coating that covers mucosal linings. Mucous membranes, such as those in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, have some of the most diverse microbial populations in the body. These inventors demonstrate that adding mucin to communities of microbes promotes diverse populations of microbes by altering inter-species interactions. When added to a bacteria culture, mucins prevent inter-species killing and outgrowth competition by absorbing and neutralizing secreted bacterial toxins and preventing biofilm formation. This technology could potentially be paired with fecal microbial transplants to facilitate the outgrowth of transplanted bacteria and maintain the biodiversity of microbiota in the transplant.

Advantages

  • Prevents microbial inter-species killing and outgrowth by altering species-species interactions
  • Potential to improve biodiversity and outgrowth in fecal microbial transplants