First-of-its-kind One Health Microbiome Resource will serven as largest and most comprehensive database of human and pet microbiomes
Hill's Pet Nutrition and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health researcher Curtis Huttenhower, MS, PhD, have teamed up to develop the One Health Microbiome Resource (OHMR), which includes microbial genomes, companion animal microbial community profiles, and tools to use them together.
"Because pets are members of the family, many consider their nutrition to be just as crucial as that of our human family members," stated Huttenhower, Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at Harvard Chan School and Co-director of the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center.1 "The same can be said for their microbial communities. The OHMR provides a new way to improve both human and animal health through nutrition, better environmental exposures, and inter-individual resource sharing on a day-to-day basis. We believe improving a pet's microbiome positively impacts a pet parent's well-being and vice versa."
Studying the microbiome in pets is important because just like in humans, the combination of bacteria play a key role in overall health and when the microbiome is unbalanced, it can cause health issues related to the gut, skin, and more.2 In recent years, this area of focus has been an interest in human medicine that has trickled down into veterinary medicine as well.
"We're excited to build on the foundation of human microbiome research to bring better nutrition and immune health to companion animals as well," added Huttenhower.1 "In the past decade, we've learned quite a bit about the human microbiome that can be applied to pets, and with the OHMR, we hope to expand this, and make the reverse true as well. Living with pets is already known to improve immune development in infants, and the OHMR will help us to understand how and why this occurs. Plus, it's especially important to build healthy, microbiome-aware diets for pets."
According to the release,1 with this partnership, Hill's Pet Nutrition has offered DNA sequencing resources that dwarf those before included in the scientific literature, expanding them by a factor of almost 5-fold. This data will allow breakthrough companion animal microbiome analyses and further enhance the understanding of human microbiome health. The company is utilizing its Pet Nutrition Center and technology to understand the microbiome and how nutrition can benefit a pet’s health.
"For more than a decade, Hill's has invested in pet microbiome research to explore and harness its benefits to improve pet health through nutrition," said Dave Baloga, Executive Vice President of Science & Technology at Hill's Pet Nutrition.1 "We hope the formation of the One Health Microbiome Resource, together with Dr Huttenhower at Harvard Chan School, will provide a platform for scientists to enhance the understanding of the microbiome's role in improving health, for both pets and humans. This reflects Hill's mission statement, which is to help enrich and lengthen the unique relationship between people and their pets."
"The OHMR will help bring renewed attention to and much needed data for the pet microbiome space, which traditionally has faced underrepresentation in terms of existing resources," continued Baloga.1 "We're hopeful and excited to support more harmonized efforts to enable more generalized, reproducible results that will leverage the benefits of microbiome science for therapeutic purposes."
The OHMR will be accessible to the whole scientific community to contribute to advancing microbiome research in humans, pets, and more.