Our research is delivering significant, sustained, valuable economic and societal impact in Hong Kong, Greater Bay, China, and Internationally.
Research & Discoveries
From Theory to Reality
Healthy Microbiome in
The infant’s microbiome can impact on human health in later life. A faulty microbiota at infancy can lead to diseases such as obesity, autism, allergy, diabetes, metabolic diseases, cancer, depression, and inflammatory bowel disease. To prevent disease, we need to nip it in the bud. Early childhood, when the microbiota is less mature and more malleable, is a golden age for microbiota manipulation to prevent disease. Studying microbiota at this golden age also allow us to dissect the development of a faulty microbiota and identify therapeutic targets to reverse it and cure diseases that are already developed.
Microbiome in Obesity and Metabolic Disease
In China, more than 100 million people are estimated to suffer from diabetes. Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in many parts of the body, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss and nerve damage, leading to disability and premature death. Environmental and genetic factors have also been implicated including changes in the gut microbiota to play a role in the development of metabolic disorders. The gut bacteria play important physiological role in vital processes such as digestion, vitamin synthesis and metabolism amongst others. Even though the exact mechanism linking gut microbiota to obesity is far from being very well understood, it’s well established that gut microbiota can increase energy production from diet, contribute to low-grade inflammation and regulate fatty acid tissue composition. Modulation of gut microbiota holds a tremendous therapeutic potential to treat the growing obesity epidemic especially when combined with diet and exercise.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases, (IBD) including Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), is increasing in the developing world. Asian populations have genetic predispositions to develop IBD that is different from the West, but these genetic abnormalities are not obligatory for the development of IBD, with environmental factors playing a much more important pathogenic role. These factors include travel with exposure to a new population in childhood, diet, antibiotic use during childhood, socioeconomic status, and a rural versus urban upbringing, each of which alone, or in combination, are likely to affect the microbiome. Compelling evidence suggests that gut microbes play a critical role in disease pathogenesis, while geographic, dietary and ethnic factors impact the microbial composition.
Intestinal Microbiota Transplantation & Development of Microbial Products
Intestinal microbiota transplant (IMT), also known as a stool transplant, involves a process that transfers gut microbes from a healthy human donor to a recipient (usually with a disease). IMT has gained much popularity worldwide. It has been used to treat various diseases, such as recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel disease (IBS), obesity, and many more. Until now, the mechanisms underlying the efficacy of IMT are largely unknown and much has focused on the gut bacterial communities. IMT success was ascribed to the restoration of the gut bacterial microbiota similar to that of the donor.