Genomics and metagenomics for better understanding enteric diarrheal diseases
Ankur Mutreja, Ph.D.
Faculty, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Every year diarrhea causes 800,000 deaths in under 5-year-old children and 120,000 of those are due to cholera. Despite cholera being a historical disease it is still around, endemic in some regions of Africa and south-East Asia and causes epidemics in other parts of the world. We have so far experienced 7 pandemics of cholera. While the first 6 were due to the classical biotype of Vibrio cholerae the seventh (and current) pandemic is due to the El Tor biotype of V. cholerae. We have sequenced and analysed several thousand V. cholerae genomes to understand the global, continental, national and local spread of cholera.
Moreover, it is well known that the same pathogen could cause symptomatic disease in one person and not infect others, producing asymptomatic carriers. While host immunity and genetics could play an important role in determining the condition, we are trying to understand if microbiota has any role to play. Using Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) as a model, we have sequenced gut microbiome of symptomatic and asymptomatic ETEC infected children and adults to check if there is any distribution/diversity signature associated. This would have implications in the probiotic space and guide more research into what restricts (or promotes) the establishment of an infection.