Novel Bacterial Pathogens of Humans

Unknown bacteria – causing diseases

It is widely accepted that at least 90% of the organisms that comprise the human microbiome have yet to be identified. As such, it is likely that some of these uncharacterized organisms are pathogenic. In addition, is has been shown that the microbiota can affect cancer risk in humans, and that certain bacterial species play a primary role in cancer progression. However, the current lack of effective and comprehensive diagnostic methods makes it impossible to identify each of the causative agents that contribute to treatment failure and death in many patients suffering from cancers or bacterial infections. Moreover, existing molecular genetic techniques are prone to false negatives, such as when one bacterial species masks another, and thus underestimate bacterial diversity. As a result, further research is necessary to develop improved diagnostic methods and to evaluate the effects of the microbiome on oncogenesis.

From identification to therapeutic strategies

The Human Microbiology Institute deals with an important problem – the identification of new, previously uncharacterized human pathogens, including pathogens that affect patients suffering from cognitive impairment or various types of cancers. Identification of these organisms is an essential first step towards generating improved therapeutic strategies for these pathologies.

Our unique methods

Our scientists have developed a unique method for cultivating previously unculturable bacteria, which enables us to further characterize the microbial diversity of the microbiome. Indeed, using this approach, the HMI has already isolated and identified previously uncharacterized organisms. These organisms are strains of conditionally pathogenic bacterial species that are potentially resistant to a large number of antibiotics and that encode a large number of virulence determinants and factors that may contribute to cancerogenicity.

Each newly identified pathogen comprises a big step towards disease prevention and enhanced treatment efficacies for poorly treated diseases.