Alterations of the gut microbiota are implicated as a contributory factor in obesity-related metabolic dysregulation. Bacteriocins are antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria of many genera, including several probiotic strains. These peptides are often very specific and can kill target species without causing collateral damage to host bacterial populations. Since bacteriocins are gaining credibility as precise modulators of the human microbiome, bacteriocin-producer strains are an interesting strategy to address obesity prevention and/or treatment. However, rigorous experimental methods are required to assess this. The aim of BIOMA is to study the impact of a set of different bacteriocin-producing strains with probiotic traits, on the composition of the gut microbiota and on metabolic abnormalities in obesity, through the use of wild type strains and derived mutants that no longer produce the bacteriocins. The proposal involves two complementary approaches: 1) In vitro fermentation systems that simulates the anaerobic and dynamic environment of the distal colon will be used to assess the effect of bacteriocins production on taxonomic profiles and diversity of gut microbial populations. 2) In vivo male and female murine models will be used to study changes in microbiota and whether these changes are associated with a reduction in body weight gain and an improvement in inflammatory and metabolic profiles. A secondment at Artugen (interface of academia and industry) will be a first step to face the challenging incorporation of bacteriocin-producing probiotics into foods and pharmabiotics. From a clinical perspective, the under-utilization of bacteriocins can be ascribed to a lack of awareness of what they can achieve. The outcome of BIOMA will impact clinical practice in the foreseeable future, providing an overview of the potential of bacteriocins as microbiota modulators and as a possible strategy in the prevention/management of obesity and metabolic disorders.
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