Ricardo Valladares of Siolta Therapeutics in the U.S. will develop a low-cost method to manufacture large quantities of mixed populations of bacteria for use as biotherapeutics to restore a healthy population of gut microbes in infants. A diverse population of bacteria in the infant gut is essential for health, but malnourishment and antibiotics can destroy microbial diversity and cause metabolic and immune problems. Gut health may be restored by treatment with a consortium of bacterial strains. However, mass production of these strains is challenging as many have complex nutritional and environmental growth requirements. To date consortium microbes have been cultured individually, resulting in a costly, small-scale process. They will first study bacterial populations in healthy infant guts to determine what species are required and the combinations that co-exist naturally. To support their growth in vitro, they will optimize a vegetable-based culture media composed of low-cost, widely available food staples, and then apply bioreactor technology used by commercial breweries to manufacture large quantities of the microbial mixture at low cost. Together, these approaches could help make microbiota-based biotherapeutics accessible in low- and middle-income countries.
More information about New Approaches for Manufacturing Gut Microbial Biotherapeutics (Round 22)