Paris - the Centre for Microbiota-Host Interaction Studies
Paris is one of most romantic cities of the world, known for its history, architecture and culture. Famous for its macarons, baguettes and stinky cheese! It is now fast becoming the centre of the microbiota-host symbiosis studies. Microbiota especially found in the gut, as we know consists of millions of microorganisms with diverse functions including- protection against pathogenic infections, digesting food, producing vitamins, educating the immune system, etc.
Taking into account the role of gut microbiota in modulating the immune system, it is quite interesting to find many Paris- based labs are dedicated in studying this interaction and also their relation to disease conditions.
Geographically speaking, the south of Paris (and the banlieue) harbour research groups committed in working on deciphering the interaction of microbiota and immune system.
We start with the 15th precinct, at the Imagine Institute where we study the role of an immunologically important bacterium called Candidatus arthromitus. Our lab in collaboration with Pasteur Institute (also in the 15th) and other labs showed that Candidatus arthromitus induces a specific Th17 and IgA response and plays a major role in educating the natal immune system. Furthermore, Pasteur Institute is the host of an yearly conference aimed at bringing together researchers studying the microbiota-host mutualism and parasitism, and focused on the new models and approaches to explore this relationship and this year it was called the “Modeling the Mammalian Microbiota Host Superorganism” in the month of October.
Then in the 14th precinct, there is the renowned Cochin Institute , which houses some groups studying the host interactions with bacteria and parasites. Groups exploring the interaction of MAIT cells in the relation to metabolic disorders, the influence of gut microbiota on the colonisation of Group B Streptococcus during early life stages, also other groups studying bacterial and parasitic entry, replication and intracellular fate of microorganisms. And now, we see a rapid shift to focus on the gut commensals. Institut Cochin in collaboration with INSERM, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, also recently organised the conference “Microbiota in Host Health and Disease: from Correlation to Causality” with the objective to understand the cross-talk between the microbiota and the host immune system and in finding ways to take advantage of the microbiome for therapeutic needs. A variety of talks explained that close interactions between various cell-types, additionally, microbes in this niche produce metabolites in a balanced fashion. Furthermore, in the future, probably, evaluation of the metabolite spectra would help us to identify disease conditions.
While, in the 13th precinct, we have the Institute of Cardiometabolism and Nutrition, working on bringing microbiome based-therapies from labs to bedside. One of their researchers, is the head of the European Union-funded project known as “MetaCardis” investigating the relationship between cardiovascular diseases and the gut microbiota, with the main investigatory methodology is metagenomics in context with the use of clinical and experimental studies. The Metacardis project brought in clinicians and scientists together to better understand the patient disorders and find solutions to judiciously control such-maladies. They too lately hosted the Metacardis conference, where they were introduced to quite a few associative studies, monitoring the changes in the microbiota and disease conditions, associated markers, immune responses and possible treatment options.
If we talk about the microbiota and metagenomics, I have to definitely mention, the Micalis Institute, just outside Paris, studying the interaction of man-microbes leading to personalized preventive nutrition and precision medicine. Groups from this institute were part of the MetaHit consortium, which partnered projects like the International Human Microbiome Standards,EvoTAR and MetaCardis and also gave rise to start-ups like Enterome based in Paris and MaaTPharma at Lyon. While the former start-up is involved in creation of novel innovative therapeutic approaches (drugs and biomarkers) to help a personalized medicine for microbiome-related diseases and the later aims to provide safe and standardized microbiotherapies for the restoration of host-microbial symbiosis in the context of programmed clinical interventions in case of dysbiosis.
As I stated before, scientist all over the world are realising the importance of the microbiota and their interaction with the immune system. Various studies have shown the association between disease condition and microbial flora, people are now also involved in deciphering the mechanistic nature of this association. Thus, Parisian scientists are rapidly joining (have been part of) this line of work with full force. Moreover, they are committed in developing new therapeutics using microbiota-based products and searching for metabolite markers for diagnostic purposes, although, they would still need predictive models to better understand the fate of microbial products in the natural host environment.