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MD Biosciences Blog

What is the Impact of Vendor Animal Microbiomes on Disease?

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on Apr 22, 2016 3:35:00 PM

On Thusday, MD Biosciences' mouse.jpgLead Scientist Britnie James, Ph.D. presented at the 2nd Annual Translational Microbiome Conference held in Boston, MA.  Her talk entitled "Understanding the Impact of Animal Vendors and the Microbiome in Tumor Progression and Treatment in a Model of Metastatic Breast Cancer" highlights the importance of the role of the micorbiome in disease progression and treatment. 

The human microbiome is made up of thousands of microbialspecies that outnumber human cells 10:1. It is no surprise then to learn that these microbes play a very important role in the homeostasis of the human body. A healthy microbiome (eubiotic) helps maintain a healthy immune system and optimal bodily function. However, an unhealthy or skewed microbiome (dysbiosis) can disrupt the body’s homeostasis and predispose, worsen or even cause disease in humans. Diseases such as allergy/asthma, irritable bowl disease (IBD), infectious diseases and even cancer can all be directly or indirectly affected by the human microbiome. Therefore, studying and understanding how to harness and manipulate the microbiome, for example with with pre- and pro-biotics, has proven to be very beneficial in the treatment and regulation of disease.

However, studying the microbiome can be challenging at the preclinical stage of research. Manipulating the microbiome with pre-, pro- and anti-biotics can be an easy way to assess its role in an animal model of disease, but many animal models do not take into account variation found within the human microbiome. The standard inbred mice used for preclinical disease modeling are the C57Bl/6 and BALB/c strains. These mice have been inbred for hundreds of generations, and they are genetically and cellularly identical- including their microbiome. These mice do not represent the general human population, in which the microbial distribution often varies from person to person. The questions then arise:

  • How do we use animal models to understand the microbiome variation between individuals?

  • What is the biological impact of this variation?


Over the last several years, researchers have found that mice from different animal vendors have inherently different microbiomes; meaning a six week old, male, C57BL/6 mouse inbred for 20 generations from one vendor can have a different make-up/distribution of their microbiome than the same criteria mouse from another vendor. This observation offers a unique way to specifically model variation in the microbiome from animal to animal while still controlling for other variables like genetic background. For example, using 16S microbiome sequencing arrays, researchers have profiled the microbiomes of animals from different vendors to identify microbes that have direct implications in infectious disease, sepsis, autoimmunity and cancer.

With the emergence of the microbiome field, we at MD Biosciences have expanded our expertise and capabilities to accommodate assessments of microbiome parameters. We can manipulate and segregate the microbiome in a variety of ways and also assess how it changes using analyses such as 16S array profiling. With these capabilities, we can begin pinpointing specific roles the microbiome plays in different diseases and explore with our clients how to promote or antagonize different aspects of the microbiome to treat these diseases.

Stay tuned for our summary of the 2nd Annual Translational Microbiome Conference and contact us today to hear more about how MD Biosciences is breaking into this field!

Topics: Inflammation, cancer/tumor, Microbiome