Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Personal Post-Conference Thoughts on Future Blastocystis Research

I'm still on a high after the 3rd Int'l Blastocystis Conference! The Scientific Committee is in the process of putting together a TrendsTalk paper for Trends in Parasitology to provide a brief summary of the different topics presented at the conference, including some important updates.

I personally think Blastocystis research has come a long way since I entered the field back in 2004, but I would like to call for more cross-disciplinary approaches to studying the parasite.

In particular, we need to stimulate a research interest in bioinformaticians, vets, food microbiologists, and gastroenterologists.

The bioinformatics people should help us analyze NGS data (shotgun, metabarcoding) and provide some robust and  guidelines for cut-offs for e.g. Blastocystis positivity and negativity in NGS data.

Vets should be interested in studying the differences in Blastocystis colonization across different animal populations and find out what drives colonization and the impact is has on the host and host gut microbiota. Studying the relationships of these microbes in animals can help us understand these relationships in humans. Vets should help us find out why Blastocystis is so common in ruminants and so rare in carnivores.

To this end, food microbiologists should take an interest to study associations and interactions between Blastocystis, the gut microbiota and the host. Including metabolomics. Diet as a driver of colonization should be investigated.

Finally, gastroenterologists should take an interest in Blastocystis to identify its positive or negative association to various GI diseases (IBS, IBD, microscopic colitis, coeliac disease, diverticulosis, colon cancer, etc, etc.)

We should take advantage of the fact that Blastocystis is one of the few intestinal parasites that can easily be cultured, which means that cells can be used for in vivo and in vitro experiments. Protocols should be developed for encystment, and cyst production on a larger scale should be enabled, since cysts can be used for oral administration. 

The current shift in paradigm that reflects the recognition of Blastocystis as marker of intestinal eubiosis could be supported and expanded by increasing the involvement of these types of professions.