Microbiome, Big Data & Artificial Intelligence: The Future is now

A new study helps to explain how nerve cells sense the microbes in the gut and how they coordinate their function with other tissues in the digestive tract.

Arches, in cooperation with the Swiss startup Probionova, is the main organizer of the digital session entitled Microbiome, Big Data & Artificial Intelligence. The Future is Now. What’s Next?, to be held on 10th December 2020 during the 12th European Innovation Summit. If you are interested to attend, you can register here.

The microbiota, often referred to as the microbiome, is a community of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that is naturally present at various sites in the body. It is transmitted through generations. Mammals are born colonized with live microbes they acquire from their mothers during labour, and these microbes play a crucial role in healthy development of the body’s organs and systems.

Several factors (e.g., Cesarean section, antibiotic use, diet, life style, etc.) can reduce microbial transmission or perturb the microbiota. The consequences for health include an association with increased risk for immune and metabolic diseases.Particularly important, is the gut microbiota, which is composed of 1013 to 1014 microorganisms. The gastrointestinal tract is, in fact, the largest body compartment in contact with the external world and its microbiome provides essential health benefits, especially by regulating immune homeostasis.

It has recently become evident that alterations of the gut microbial communities can cause immune dysregulation. The impact of changes to the gut microbiome during space flight on immune functioning has also been documented.

In light of the above, it is clear that catching the microbiome signature of as many individuals as possible, treatments could be «tailor-made» to individual genetic mutations and microbial compositions. Thanks to the advances in AI techniques (e.g. deep learning AI), the processing and interpretation of these massive data sets is now feasible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated our global fragility. A combined microbiome-AI approach could enhance EU’s ability to respond coherently, rapidly and appropriately to protect European citizens from health crises. In particular, AI could be applied to analyze enormous quantities of data (Big Data) to create packages/patterns favourable to identify/predict resilience or fragility (Long Data) in the EU populations.

Gut health, what affects it, and its potential connections with wellness and illness in other parts of the body are certainly of high public interest. By adopting the proposed crosscutting technologies and solutions, the EU could be better equipped to prevent, prepare for and manage health crises both at the EU and global level, with all the societal and economic benefits that it would bring.