Rogerio A. Bataglioli, PhD
Modifying Undesired Gut Bacterial Behavior to Treat Disease
The gut microbiome, the collection of microbes living in the human gut, plays an essential role in our development and health. The microbiome can be both helpful and potentially harmful depending on the kinds of bacteria present and how they interact with the human body. Changing this bacterial composition toward one that benefits human health is challenging.
Bacteriophages (phages) are predators of bacteria that are natural residents of the gut microbiome. Phages can transform bacteria by injecting their genetic material into the targeted cell. My study aims to use engineered phages to alter how specific gut bacteria behave, but not their composition.
I will first identify and tune phage traits to maximize gene delivery with minimal impact on bacterial fitness. I will then use this knowledge to target genes in gut bacteria associated with the development of colon cancer and investigate the efficacy of this approach using mouse models. This work will improve our understanding of how phages can alter the behavior of gut bacteria as a long-lasting, noninvasive therapy for diseases in the gut.
The PhRMA Foundation Fellowship will provide me the flexibility to advance my research on bacteriophage engineering for treating chronic gastrointestinal diseases. It will be an honor to participate in this talented and vibrant scientific community.