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Obesity prevalence has been skyrocketing since the 1970s globally, with the Eastern Mediterranean region being no exception.   For instance, obesity is prevalent in 20% of Saudi Arabian adults, with an elevated prevalence in females. The increase of obesity rates in adult females of reproductive age is particularly worrying, given new evidence suggesting links between...

Microbiota contributes to an array of benefits for their human hosts; digestion, vitamin production, homeostasis, immunity and the list goes on. The microbiome is first established upon exit from the sterile womb, and the mode of delivery can shape colonisation and dynamics of a newborn’s gut community. A recent article from BBC highlights gut microbiome...

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Metagenomics is the study of genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples. It is a relatively new field that has been made possible by advances in molecular biology and sequencing technology. But why is metagenomics important? Well, understanding the genes of all organisms is important for several reasons.

In metagenomics, biological specimens are sometimes collected from host tissue that contains a high ratio of host to bacterial DNA. When shotgun metagenomics sequencing data are generated for these specimens, they normally contain a large fraction of host reads compared to microbial reads. Analyzing microbiome data with a high host ratio of reads can lead...

A complete analysis of the microbiome should combine taxonomic profiling with functional characterization to discover the full potential of an entire community of microorganisms. However, research teams often require specialized training and extensive computational infrastructure to establish an in-house suite of tools for processing shotgun metagenomic data – and even with the right know-how, the...

The gut microbiome has clear implications for health and disease. Recent evidence of this comes from a US FDA vote for approval of the microbiome-based drug RBX2660, created by Rebiotix Inc, A Ferring Company, to treat potentially deadly bacterial infections with Clostridium difficile (Cdiff). Cdiff is a common gut bacteria that may cause severe diarrhea...

A recent article in the Washington Post highlights a link between the gut microbiome composition and cancer immunotherapy treatment outcomes. The human gut microbiome consists of a vast array of bacteria, fungi, phages and other microbes. The interactions between the microbes and their interconnection with the host affects host immunity, health and homeostasis. In this...

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune neurodegenerative disease targeting the central nervous system with a prevalence of around 2.8 million people globally. The etiopathogenesis of MS is multifactorial and involves environmental factors. Amongst the environmental factors, the gut microbiota is a key player modulating MS. Dietary habits drive the gut microbiome. Thus, dietary shifts change...

Obesity is a health problem that increases mortality and morbidity globally. Although there have been developments in therapeutic obesity treatments, the prevalence of obesity has increased. Additionally, there have been developments in understanding the mechanisms underlying obesity. For example, recent evidence highlights the gut microbiota as a risk factor for obesity. However, there is limited...