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Intestinal mucosa of a patient with Crohn's disease. © INRA, Nadia VASQUEZ / CNAM

MetaGenoPolis: the microbiota in our intestines are at the heart of human health

MetaGenoPolis, which officially started its work on July 2, 2013 in Jouy-en-Josas, is a research group unlike any other in Europe when it comes to studying human intestinal microbiota. The intestinal microbiota plays an essential role in human nutrition as well as in the human immune system, by providing crucial protection against infections; it is now considered to be another organ of the human body. When it is not functioning properly, the rest of the body can be affected.

By Pascale Mollier, translated by Jessica Pearce
Updated on 06/13/2014
Published on 07/04/2013

In this short film, Joël Doré and Dusko Ehrlich (INRA) provide background for the work being done by MetaGenoPolis and describe its lines of research. MetaGenoPolis, in its capacity as an industrial biotechnology catalyst, is funded by a French grant programme (Stimulus Initiative Programme). Karine Clément (INSERM) and Thierry Magnin (Catholic University of Lyon) discuss the project’s health and ethics perspectives, respectively.

MetaGenoPolis has brought together several platforms that are collecting thousands of samples taken from human intestines and is analyzing them using high-throughput sequencing. The identification of the bacterial populations that make up different human enterotypes will allow researchers to zero in on markers associated with different diseases, a technique that is already being used to examine obesity and certain intestinal inflammatory diseases. Ultimately, the goal is to fully understand how the intestinal microbiota functions and what effects it may have on human health, with a view not only to better diagnosing diseases but also to improving treatments (e.g., the use of antibiotics, pro- and prebiotics, or even microbiota “grafts”).

MetaGenoPolis includes a platform whose focus is ethical vigilance and that seeks to define the precautionary measures and the ethical responsibilities that are tied to disease diagnoses and treatments.

MetaGenoPolis’ current research draws on findings obtained by past projects:

- MetaHIT, headed by Dusko Ehrlich
- Micro-Obese, headed by Joël Doré

MetaGenoPolis is run by INRA and housed in one of its research centers. The research group has also established ties between the ICAN in Paris (Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Cardiométabolisme et Nutrition) and the Catholic University of Lyon.

Movie produced and directed by Gérard Paillard in 2013.

Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Microbiology and the Food Chain , Nutrition, Chemical Food Safety and Consumer Behaviour
Associated Centre(s):