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Approved research

Human Blood Microbiome

Principal Investigator: Professor Ahmed Moustafa
Approved Research ID: 51458
Approval date: January 17th 2020

Lay summary

Human blood was previously thought to be a microbe-free environment, and therefore, a microbial presence in the blood would be interpreted as a pathogenic infection. With the rapid advances in DNA sequencing technologies, it has been recently suggested that blood can normally contain microorganisms even in healthy individuals. The total genetic makeup of microorganisms living in a compartment of a human body, here the blood, is called 'microbiome'. The microbial community can be bacteria, viruses, archaea, or single-cell eukaryotic organisms. Blood microbiome might differ from one person to another due to the health and disease condition. Thus, a disturbance in the composition of the microbial community may lead to an unhealthy microbiome and consequently causing diseases. This project aims to create a catalog of the human blood microbiome and to suggest a common core blood microbiome among individuals. It will also inspect the discrepancies of the blood microbiome in health and different diseases. This may suggest the blood microbiome as a biomarker for early diagnosis of diseases. There have also been contradicting reports on the interaction between human genes and the human microbiome. This interaction between the human genes and the blood microbiome will be addressed. Blood transfusion is a concern because patients, particularly, immunocompromised, may be subjected to further illness if they receive blood contains unexpected (and untested) microbes. Furthermore, the project will establish associations between the blood microbiome composition (presence and load) and the available demographics, lifestyles, and ethnic backgrounds. The project will not only focus on exploring the types of microbes, but it will also determine microbial functional capabilities. This comprehensive characterization will provide insights for potential therapeutic solutions for disease-causing blood microbes.