2019-106 – Encapsulated Microbiomes as Tools for Discovery

Background The influence on human health and disease due to microbiomes and microbial communities is being closely studied. The current methods for investigating and understanding the microbiome require the removal of microbes from their communities and analyzing them as a mixture. In particular, studying intestinal community composition involves gathering data from fecal samples, analyzing the metabolites (such as fatty acids), and radio tracing the metabolites from patients and lab animals. Despite these processes, the analysis of feces cannot accurately portray the composition of intestinal mucosal communities or their 3-dimensional spatial and metabolic relationships. In addition, these current techniques do not provide adequate information about the spatial relationships or the spatial composition of communities along the longitude of the colon. Thus, there is a need for methods to overcome these limitations to further study microbiome communities. Technology Description Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a novel method for encapsulating microbiome communities to enable detailed relationships between organisms comprising them. This technique allows for the encapsulation of microbiomes directly from the source. Direct-sourcing enables the 3-dimensional structure of the microbiome to be preserved, allowing for detailed structural analysis; as well as,in vitrometabolic studies over several days, thus eliminating the need for the repeated sacrifice of animal models or multiple sampling of human subjects. The encapsulated microbial communities can be used as test beds to compare microbial community composition, structure, and function. The microbial communities may be excised from one or more sections of animal tissue. This method allows for higher throughput, requires less sacrifice of animals, and enables spatial characterization of salient community parameters at different regions within a given organ or body part. Gregg Banninger GBanninger@innovations.unm.edu 505-272-7908

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