The Gut Microbiota for Health Expert Panel represents a group of multi-disciplinary members (including primary and secondary care clinicians, microbiologists, dietitians and research scientists) with expertise and interest in the gut microbiota and its role in health and disease. The Group is under the auspices of the British Society of Gastroenterology Research Committee.
The group was formed in 2013 and now includes over 50 members who meet twice a year, arrange meetings and workshops on key topics related to the microbiota and publish articles in high impact journals, as well as writing articles to enhance understanding with the public. As the Group has grown, it is now organised into Special Interest Groups (SIGs) but maintains the over-arching meetings to ensure continuity and sharing of expertise and interest.
The goals of the group are: to increase awareness and understanding among clinicians of the gut microbiota and its impact on health; to be a 'go-to' address for clinicians (GPs, gastroenterologists, nurses and allied health professionals) for defining what is currently reliably known in this field; and to drive scientific and academic interest in the gut microbiota primarily in gastrointestinal and liver disease - although our SIGs also cover nutrition, the gut-brain axis and infectious disease. Our website (https://www.bsg.org.uk/research/gut-microbiota-for-health-expert-panel.html) lists links to up-to-date papers selected by the SIG as being particularly relevant and topical. Each SIG will take turns to post articles here with news of developments in this rapidly evolving field of biology.
In particular, the group aims to:
- To map the science and reach consensus on what is known and what is not yet known
- To develop guidelines to promote good practice
- To draft consensus statements on areas of interest for UK GPs
- To identify gaps in knowledge and research foci
- To identify research and development areas in this field that would advance understanding and lead to patient benefit
The group has been successful in achieving several publications for the clinical and scientific audience, as well as the public. The group published a major scientific review in GUT, "The gut microbiota and host health: A new clinical frontier" (Marchesi et al. GUT 2016; 65:330-339), which is in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric. In this article, the group outlines: the current understanding of the gut microbiota; dietary modulation of the microbiota; assesses the role of probiotics, prebiotics and polyphenols; and describes obesity-related diseases, liver disease, inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer and the microbiota.
The article "The ecologist will see you now" outlines for the public some of the fascinating facts about the microbiota, explaining that "we're not individuals, we're ecosystems full of bacteria and understanding how these microbes interact with our bodies is set to transform medicine".
The group published a systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for the treatment of recurrent and refractory Clostridium difficile infection (Quraishi et al. APT 2017; 46:479-493) and is currently completing a comprehensive NICE-approved FMT practice guideline, which is a joint BSG/HIS venture. It is aimed to publish this in 2018.
The Group has contributed to two successful BSG Research Workshops: "The Microbiome, Dysbiosis and GI Disease" (11 April 2014) and "Faecal Microbiota Transplantation: Bench, Bedside, Courtroom?" 11 September 2015. In 2018 we plan to hold a workshop focussed on developing a national FMT service, which will follow the annual BSG meeting in Liverpool (details to follow).
The Group is also developing a review for primary care professionals, explaining the current understanding of the gut microbiota's impact on gut disorders.
This is an exciting and fast evolving area of research and the Group welcome involvement from interested colleagues in this multi-disciplinary field.
Professor Tariq Iqbal
Chair, Gut Microbiota for Health Expert Panel