Human microbiomes – the microbial colonies that exist in our guts –play a key role in disease development, progression, and therapeutic response. While global changes in the microbiome have been correlated to a disease or response to therapies, we lack methods to rapidly assess the impact of drugs and compounds on individual microbiomes. The development of a rapid screening platform would provide a groundbreaking and effective tool to screen novel and existing drugs and compounds for their effect on individual microbiomes. This would allow the screening of compounds for drug development to induce the desired changes in the microbiome.
Dr. Daniel Figeys and his team, in the first phase of this competition, demonstrated the proof-of-principle of RapidAIM, an assay that measures functional changes in individual microbiomes following exposure to drugs or compounds. The team is currently developing commercial applications, which include a fully automated, high-throughput prototype of the RapidAIM platform, together with a bioinformatics analysis platform, MetaLab. The Companion software developed for RapidAIM, METAMCI, will rapidly assess the effects of drugs/compounds in individual microbiomes. The team will also create a drug-microbiome interaction database of FDA approved and novel compounds to test RapidAIM and METAMCI , in collaboration with their industrial partners Biotagenics and Filament BioSolutions.
The development and commercialization of RapidAIM will provide significant economic benefit. The product will enable identification of new drugs/compounds that target the microbiome, facilitate more rapid clinical development of drug candidates, prevent unwanted negative effects on the microbiome of new therapeutics, and achieve a better understanding of the impact of currently used therapeutics on the microbiome. The technology can also be used to select the most effective treatment for individuals, based on their microbiome’s differing responses to drugs, improving health and reducing healthcare costs by targeting treatments to those who will benefit most.