The human microbiome has emerged as the crucial moderator in the interactions between food and our body. It is increasingly recognised that the microbiome can change our mind and health status, or switch on a wide range of diseases including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, allergies, and obesity. The causes of diseases are often only partially understood. However, nutrients, metabolites, and microbes are increasingly regarded as key players, even where the complete disease mechanisms remain unclear.
The key to progress in the future will be to use and exploit additional, newly emerging disciplines such as metagenomics to complement patient information and to bring our understanding of diseases and the interrelation and effects of nutritional molecules to the next level. The EU has already funded 216 projects under the 7th Framework Programme and Horizon 2020 programmes to promote metagenomics and to advance our knowledge of microbes.
This support started with the catalysing MetaHIT project that has produced a catalogue of gut microbes, and has arrived now at the very multi-disciplinary SYSCID action looking at how the microbiome is driving its resilience potential and our health. Together, these projects involve an investment of more than €498 M. However, in Horizon 2020, the new EU Health and Food Work Programmes for 2018–2020 go even further by setting new goals to find applications and to generate more knowledge on the microbiome, nutrition, various hosts of microbes, and their relation to health and disease.
The big vision is to modulate health and diseases via the microbiome and nutrition, while at the same time other factors such as omics, molecular signatures, and lifestyle are constant. In this way, microbiome and nutrition research is moving from an isolated and despised offside position to a beacon of hope with a lot of potential and possibilities.
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