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KRF-UTHealth Center for Microbiome Research

Examining the causation or correlation links between microbiome dysbiosis and human disease

The gut microbiome harbors a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells, which influence healthy brain responses, human physiology, metabolism, nutrition, and immune function. Disruption to the gut microbiome has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel disease, colon cancer, obesity and its metabolic complications as well as neurologic and mental health disorders.

Through a novel fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) oral capsule, KRF has successfully treated and cured approximately 200 patients with the recurrent intestinal infection caused by a pure disorder of the gut microbiome called Clostridium difficile (C. Diff), which can cause severe damage to the colon and even be fatal. Building on the success of this FMT treatment, the KRF-UTHealth Center for Microbiome Research was established in 2014 as a collaboration between KRF, UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School, and UTHealth’s School of Public Health to investigate other conditions and diseases associated with a loss of intestinal microbiome diversity.

The KRF-UTHealth Center for Microbiome Research is currently conducting research studies and clinical trials to test the theory that this same treatment method will also lead to improvements in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This study will provide essential baseline data needed for clinical trials aimed at determining if abnormal microbiome (dysbiosis) in patients can be modified through the administration of the FMT oral capsule developed by KRF. The goal of the research is to examine the causation or correlation links between microbiome dysbiosis and human disease.

The KRF-UTHealth Center for Microbiome Research is actively conducting research studies and clinical trials to:

1) Define the microbiome of PD, NAFLD, and IBS patients;

2) Determine if abnormal microbiome (dysbiosis) in patients can be modified through FMT treatment;

3) Correlate improvements in gut health with improvements in disease-specific clinical symptoms; and

4) Identify the specific bacteria that are capable of improving gut health and can be used to develop a next-generation, novel probiotic.

The KRF-UTHealth Center for Microbiome Research is one of the first study groups (we believe we are the first) to tackle in placebo-controlled trials the medical value of microbiome reversal in PD and amongst the early researchers for NAFLD and IBS. In addition, this project proposes using an already developed product that has successfully been used in a clinical trial for C.Diff and is manufactured under Good Laboratory Practice methods in a CLIA/CAP certified laboratory at UTHealth. If this project is successful, KRF will apply to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a larger grant to expand the clinical trial. If improvements in patient function, disease and quality of life are observed, the data will support further use of capsule product as a low-cost, high science treatment for patients with other conditions associated with the loss of gut diversity.

History of the Center for Microbiome Research

Prior to the formation of the Center for Microbiome Research in 2014, the Kelsey Research Foundation established the David N. Scoular Digestive Disease Program, named for David Scoular, a distinguished member of the KRF’s Board of Directors and for many years served as President and Chairman. His commitment to excellence and devotion to our mission to improve the quality of patient care and health outcomes earned him a place of honor in the Houston community.

From 2010-2014, the Center served as the beginning of the collaboration between KRF and UT Health-School of Public Health and McGovern Medical School, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Houston - School of Pharmacy and physicians at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.  We are proud to honor the work of David Scoular through the creation of the KRF-UTHealth Center for Microbiome Research.