Forsyth Institute receives $5.4M grant to study oral microbiome: 7 insights

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Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Mass., received a $5.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue research on microbes living in the mouth.

Here are seven insights:

1. Forsyth investigator Christopher Johnston, PhD, will lead the efforts. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research will administer the study.

2. The grant recognizes scientists pursuing high risk, high reward research that spans multiple disciplines and has the potential to challenge current paradigms.

3. Dr. Johnston is designing a rapid, robust system enabling scientists to genetically engineer bacteria that can be grown in a laboratory.

4. Oral microbiome can promote or guard diseases. However, it is difficult to determine microbes' affects due to scientists' inability to genetically engineer microbes.

5. For inaccessible microbes, it can take months or years for scientists to develop the capabilities to successfully modify the microbial DNA. Dr. Johnston hopes his system will enable scientists to genetically engineer microbes.

6. Other collaborators on the project include Floyd Dewhirst, DDS, PhD, a pioneer in oral microbiome research and expert in bioinformatics and computational biology.

7. Forsyth Institute's goal is to ensure investigators can genetically track that any bacterial with relevance to human health and disease within a matter of weeks.

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