Research on the microbiome has exploded due to new techniques that enable the identification of bacterial species without isolating and culturing a process highly limited in its scope.
A vital organ made up of trillions of microbes that are invisible and completely alien to, not derived from and not part of our human cell lines, inhabits our gut (1). These microbes hold the potential to redefine how we understand our health, ourselves and disease(2). Research on the microbiome has exploded due to new techniques that enable identification of bacterial species without isolating and culturing – a process highly limited in its scope. Whole-metagenome shotgun analysis and sequencing of ribosomal 16S RNA strands, has expanded our knowledge moving us from a basic understanding of the microbiome to a place of awe at the enormity of this still untapped universe. These techniques now allow us to explore the sophisticated interplay between the microbiota and the human body. While probiotics have a long history of use in many countries around the globe, the North American market is consumer-driven, putting more emphasis on the need for research. Tracking these market changes are regulators in the US, Europe, and Canada.