Biotechnology Focus

Biotechnology Focus February 2013

Biotechnology Focus is Canada's leading authority on Canada's life science news. From biopharma and healthcare to ag-bio and clean tech, our readership includes life science professionals, C-level executives and researchers.

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MetagenoMiCs Humans have been able to see microbes since Anton van Leeuwenhoek's documented discovery of microorganisms in 1675. Success A CELEBRATION OF In the clinical realm metagenomics is being used to identify the human microbiome and its role in human health: in the future we may be able to modify our own microbiomes to manage or even preclude diseases like diabetes, obesity, Crohn's disease and others. Metagenomics can also be applied in the case of unfamiliar infectious diseases or inexplicable outbreaks: using DNA sequences in a clinical sample will help to determine if the problem is a novel or recognizable pathogen. From an environmental health perspective, there are also many applications for metagenomics such as determining the microbiome of different environments and its role in ecosystem health, and discovering novel organisms or enzymes that may be of benefit to the biotechnology industry. Annual Awards Gala Dinner Wednesday February 27th, 2013 Liberty Grand ŸExhibition Place ŸToronto Exploration and ingenuity – bodies, water and energy In metagenomic sequencing, DNA is retrieved directly from environmental samples, with the goal of obtaining an unbiased sample from all genes of all members of the community. One challenge this method presents is that not all microbial samples have a reference genome to be compared to. However, analysis of the genes often elucidates clues as to their function, which can then be compared to massive public metagenomic databases being continuously scanned and expanded with contributions of data coming from around the world. These databases not only contain genomics information, but equally importantly, all manners of data that define the environment where the samples were collected. Ultimately, the actionable information will be teased out of the datasets by asking questions that identify intersections between the genomics and phenotypic data. Our bodies There are many advantages in knowing more about these unexplored microorganisms. The applications to human health number in the hundreds; a prime example is an ongoing research into the human vaginal microbiome, a niche area where Canada has significant expertise, research capacity, and pre-existing infrastructure upon which to build. Conditions associated with an imbalance in vaginal microbiota afflict several million Canadian women each year, and generate health care costs of billions of dollars annually. Ongoing research is not only identifying bacterial species present under various conditions over a woman's lifespan, but also developing novel diagnostic tools and interventions to help restore and retain health. Research continues to offer more understanding of the core vaginal microbiome, and also explores the associations behind vaginal microbiota and pre-term births, genital tract infections, and overall reproductive health. To keep the vaginal microbiome healthy there must be a balance of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide production. This combination For Sponsorship & Table Sales Contact the LSO Office 416 Ÿ426 Ÿ7293 admin@lifesciencesontario.ca www.lifesciencesontario.ca February 2013 BIOTECHNOLOGY FOCUS 19

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