The microbiota interacts with itself and its human host to impact health and disease. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic and debilitating condition that results from severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Two conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, account for the vast majority of the 5 million IBD cases worldwide.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggest a causal link between the gut microbiome and IBD. A number of theories have been proposed implicating the microbiome in the pathogenesis of IBD. Ranging from the activation of the inflammasome through opportunistic pathogens that take advantage of barrier dysfunction, to genetic defects within the host that trigger a deleterious response to normally commensal microbiota, the microbiome is central to the development of chronic intestinal inflammation and subsequent IBD.
Second Genome is actively investigating microbially-mediated mechanisms underlying IBD. By identifying the bacteria that play a key role in IBD, scientific studies have lead to the identification of new therapeutic approaches and strategies to treating this debilitating condition. A lead candidate is under development that is a small molecule inhibitor of a key microbiome-mediated target to address inflammation and pain in IBD. Furthermore, proteins derived from important bacteria that are reduced in disease settings provide signals that maintain a healthy gut barrier that can be used as novel therapeutics for the treatment of IBD. Finally, the use of this approach and platform in metabolic diseases to identify bacteria and proteins that provide metabolic homeostasis in obesity and diabetes will also be discussed.
Karim Dabbagh leads the R&D organization at Second Genome. Prior to that, he led the immunoregulation department at Pfizer, an R&D group focused on innovative approaches to elicit homeostatic immune responses, including microbiome research, for the treatment of immune related disorders. At Pfizer, he also led external R&D innovation for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Past responsibilities include founding Modus BioMedicine, a start-up biotechnology company focused on treatments for transplantation and autoimmune disease, as well as spending nine years at Roche Pharmaceuticals in Inflammation Discovery Research.
Dr. Dabbagh received his PhD in biochemistry from University College, London and his BS in biotechnology from the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine in London. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco and at Stanford University where he worked on elucidating the role played by the microbiome in the hygiene hypothesis.