The human microbiome also known as microbiota is composed of population of microbes such as fungi, bacteria and archaea. These microbes reside on the surface or in the deep layers of skin in oral mucosa, the saliva, gastrointestinal tracts and in the conjunctiva. At present, extensive research is being conducted to discover the importance of these micro-organisms in maintaining immune systems and contributing to digestion of food. Large number of microbes resides in the large intestine, with region of the human body having a distinct community of microbes dwelling. For instance, a specific microbial community prefers to grow on the skin or in the nose. Studies are still in progress to understand the factors regulating microbial colonization in areas of the body that are just millimeters apart. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was launched in 2008 as a U.S. National Institute of Health. This was initiated with a goal of identifying and characterizing the microbes found within the healthy and diseases human body.
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The global human microbiome market can be segmented on the basis of disease, application, product and geography. Disease segment is further classified into allergic conditions, autoimmune diseases, cancer, diarrhea, diabetes, obesity and others. Products for human microbiome include prebiotics, probiotics, drugs, devices, and medical foods. Therapeutics and diagnostics form the two application segments for the global human microbiome market. Medical foods are intended for the dietary management of a disease insufficiently provided by the diet alone. Medical food can be further segmented as nutritionally complete formulae, nutritionally incomplete formulae, oral rehydration products and formulae for metabolic disorders. Extensive research on human microbiome will immensely expand the awareness of the composition of microbial communities in the human body.
Consumption of a favorable prebiotic enhances the proliferation of beneficial microbes, thereby promoting improved digestive function. Advances in next generation sequencing technologies have shaped a new research field known as metagenomics, which allows comprehensive examination of microbial communities eliminating the need for their cultivation. Transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics and other such advanced ‘omics technologies help measure the biological properties of whole microbial communities, eventually providing insights into interaction between the microbiome and human host that either support health or trigger disease.
The study of the human microbiome is still in its infancy though is emerging rapidly. The critical and integral role of the microbiome in the human health and well being, recognition of these inhabitant microbes as a part of the human body has been recently explored. Applications from microbiome research are growing at a tremendous rate because of the exploitation of their changeable property. Geographically, the global market for human microbiome market is segmented into four major regions, namely, North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World. Impending government regulations on medical foods, prebiotics and probiotics, especially in the U.S., lack of comprehensive research, and less awareness among the population are some of the factors hampering the market growth. Unlike United Nations, there is no official legal or regulatory standardized definition of probiotics and prebiotics in the U.S.
Some of the key players contributing to the global human microbiome market include ActoGenix, DuPont, Enterome Bioscience SA, Metabiomics Corporation, Merck & Co., Inc., MicroBiome Therapeutics LLC, OptiBiotix Health plc, Osel, Inc., Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Second Genome, Inc., Vedanta BioScience, Inc., ViThera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.