Q&A with Nestle's Marcus Bohme

Please introduce yourself and give a little background of your current activities?

I’m a R&D Specialist working at Nestlé Research Lausanne, Switzerland where I am leading projects on the Gut-Brain Axis. Prior to joining Nestlé, I completed my undergraduate training in Nutritional Science at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany, followed by a PhD in Neuroscience focused on microbiota-host interaction and their impact on brain plasticity and behavior. Subsequently, I completed a 4-year postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Prof. John Cryan and Prof. Ted Dinan at APC Microbiome Institute within University College Cork, Ireland, where I studied the role of the gut microbiome on brain and cognitive health across the lifespan. My research focusses on how nutrients shapes brain health and behavior along the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis.

What is the most exciting areas of gut microbiome you are currently working on?

My current work focuses on understanding how the gut microbiota influence our brain health, primarily in aging, and finding innovative microbiota-targeted solutions to improve health aspects such as cognition.

What has been the most noticeable trends and exciting milestone that’s been achieved in microbiome in the past year?

This past year has brought a lot of exciting research on the microbiota-gut-brain axis. We’ve seen increasing research involving mechanistic insights on microbe-host dialogue, especially on how the gut microbiota influence immunity in light of COVID. We’ve also seen more causal research uncovering novel aspects of health which the gut microbiota interact with, including my own research on utilizing the gut microbiota to improve healthy aging. There has also been more understanding in the role that the gut bacteria plays in therapeutic drug metabolism. More evidence that our gut microbes are important!

What do you think has been the driving force for these trends?

There has been increasing public awareness that the gut microbiota is important for many aspects of human health and that disruptions in the gut microbiota also underlies many diseases. This has certainly helped increase financial support for this field of research, including funding by governments, non-profits, and industries. In addition, we have increasing advances in technology and scientific interest in this field, which has allowed for more in-depth and cross-disciplinary research.

What do you believe are the priorities for the gut microbiome community going into 2022?

I think it is becoming increasingly important to understand which specific species in the gut microbiota exert which effects on the host. In this way, we may be able to better understand underlying roles of specific microbes in disease pathology, and hopefully uncover more targeted solutions to improve health. Another strong priority needs to be translating our preclinical knowledge into patients. As they say, we might have the healthiest mice in the world after all this preclinical research, but the key is in translation.

Where do you think the gut microbiome community should be focusing in light of these priorities?

Once there is sufficient preclinical evidence, I believe we need to prioritize a push for clinical trials. Additionally, continuing to bring in expertise from other fields via multidisciplinary collaborations. There is also a lot of interests in bacteriophages, or viruses that are specific to one type of bacteria, which may be able to take the place of broad-spectrum antibiotics sometime in the future.

Without giving too much away could you provide an introductory overview of what you will be looking to present (or address) at the upcoming Gut Microbiome Therapeutics Europe 2021? Why is this important to the audience?

I’m very much looking forward to discussing our current understanding of the role of gut microbiome on brain aging and sharing some of my recent work in this realm. As it stands, we are constantly aging, so this is a topic that is important to everybody.

What are you most looking forward to at Gut Microbiome Therapeutics Europe 2021?

I am looking forward to hearing more about the regulation of microbiome-based therapeutics, including Michèle Paquier’s discussion on intellectual property.