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GCAT-Microbiome: Prospective assessment of Human Microbiome as Determinant of Health and Disease

Research Leader:
Victor Moreno
Catalan Institute of Oncology

The human being lives accompanied by trillions of microorganisms that constitute the microbiota. They live mainly in the gastrointestinal tract, from oral cavity to gut, skin and vagina of women. These microorganisms, mainly bacteria, but also fungi and viruses, have a joint genome, the microbiome, that is between 100 and 1000 times larger than the human genome and play important metabolic functions

Most microbiome studies have used retrospective or cross-sectional designs, so reverse causality cannot be excluded

In this project we propose to analyse the microbiome in volunteers from the GCAT cohort, and to evaluate its association with the occurrence of diseases. To conduct the study, a kit will be mailed to a sample (n=2500) of individuals to collect faeces and saliva.

The microbiome will be analysed with ultrasequencing techniques to identify the microbial composition of the stool. Diversity indexes, composition and abundance will be calculated and associations with the most common diseases will be assessed. This is an investment for the future, since the cohort has just been recruited and in three years it will only be possible to analyse associations with diseases that already have been diagnosed. But these analyses will allow us to confirm the associations already described and identify new ones. In addition, since we have genomics and metabolomics data and good epidemiological and dietary questionnaires, we will be able to study the determining mechanisms of dysbiosis and how dysbiosis affects the metabolome using systems biology approaches. In the future, when the cohort follow-up identifies new cases of the different diseases, the direction of the associations will be established prospectively.