A new tool developed by researchers at Harvard University and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health could provide critical insights into the human gut microbiome and its links to health. A February 23, 2017, Harvard Gazette article highlighted the significance of the new technique, which was developed by Dr. Emily Balskus, the Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Dr. Curtis Huttenhower, associate professor of computational biology and bioinformatics at Harvard Chan School.
The tool has the potential to help researchers more accurately identify enzymes present in the microbiome—the trillions of microbes that inhabit our digestive tract—and to quantify their relative abundance. This is critical because the functions of the vast majority of the proteins in the gut microbiome are unknown—and it’s likely that many are enzymes, proteins that catalyze chemical reactions.
The research was published February 10, 2017, in Science.