Mar./2008
(STRATEGIC PROPOSALS)
Health Evaluation Technology based on the Elucidation of Human Microbiome/CRDS-FY2007-SP-12
Executive Summary

In recent years, we have begun to realize that it is necessary for development of human diseases to consider the effects of external environment such as bacterial flora in the intestine and meals in addition to these phenomena. In fact, it has been indicated that the conditions of intestinal bacteria are deeply involved in the pathological conditions of such diseases as inflammatory enteric diseases, allergy, colorectal cancer and obesity. For example, there are differences in the types of intestinal bacteria between obese people and healthy people. It has been scientifically proven that this difference is not the result of obesity but the difference in the bacterial flora becomes the cause of obesity.

In the past, it was technically difficult to analyze the dynamic state of bacterial flora, their functions and interaction with the living body and the entire picture was unknown like a black box. However, in recent years, such analysis has finally become possible thanks to rapid progress of genomic analysis technology. Furthermore, the development of related technologies is expected in the future and the time when a comprehensive analysis becomes possible by perceiving human health and diseases from the aspect of interaction with environmental factors is coming. Therefore, this proposal demonstrates the necessity to understand interaction between bacterial flora and human body using above technologies focus on the microbiome(complex microbe genomes).

As specific research issues to realize health evaluation by biological microbiome, the following issues are indispensable.

(1) Understanding of dynamic state of bacterial flora/metabolites in the gastrointestinal tract
(2) Understanding of interaction between bacterial and gastrointestinal tract
(3) Establishment of functional assessment models (germ-free animal, artificial intestinal model, etc.)

In order to pursue health evaluation by analysis of microbiome in human gastrointestinal tract, it is not enough to carry out individual studies in parallel but it is necessary to promote collaborative research that allows each research group to share information. For this purpose, as for the method to promote R&D, it is desired to form a system in which individual research groups exist around the core groups that become common basis (genome analysis, metabolite analysis, establishment of functional evaluation model, biological resources).

The promotion of this proposal will enable us to understand the relationship between the bacterial flora and the living body, which is expected to create a new technologies for health evaluation such as devices to detect a sign before a disease develops.

By establishing a daily health management system based on this, it is simultaneously expected that we can respond to social demands to reduce medical costs and promote preventive medicine as a country that reaches a super aging society ahead of other countries. In addition, by improving a platform of common basis to which private companies can join, it is also considered to promote the collaboration between private companies and the academia and contribute to development of functional food in the companies.