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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ventura Lab Hosts Biome Conference

 Progenabiome in Ventura shared its Malibu Microbiome Meeting earlier this month, a re-creation of a live virtual meeting in August.Dr. Sabine Hazan, chief executive of the genetic sequencing lab in Ventura County, emceed the event and presented what her company has been studying to further understand the human microbiome — and how that relates to Progena’s six COVID-related clinical trials.Other presenters included Drs. Neil Stollman, gastroenterologist and professor at the University of California – San Francisco; Anderson Cancer Center’s Yinghong Wang; Scott Jackson with the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology; Alex Khoruts from the University of Minnesota Medical School; and Howard Young with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.The microbiome is the genetic material of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live on and inside the human body. Companies that study it, such as Progenabiome, look to better understand how each individual’s microbiome is different, and how unique gut flora interacts with disease.“I always tell my patient that we’re at mile one of 300,000 miles,” Hazan said during her presentation. “We need to better understand the microbiome, we need to do precision medicine, understand the individual, understand the microbes.”COVID-19 trials currently underway at Progena include two Phase II studies, one to test the treatment of hydroxychloroquine, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc to prevent COVID-19 infection. The other tests the efficacy of these same drugs used together with azithromycin, an antibiotic.Another study explores the role of gut flora in COVID-19 infection, by studying the stools of patients infected with the virus.“Everybody’s rushing to treat, treat, treat, put out a vaccine, but no one is really looking at what is going on with COVID-19 and the gut,” added Hazan.There are more than 3,000 studies currently for therapeutic clinical trials, Hazan said, while only two studies explore gut flora and COVID-19, one led by Progenabiome.“I became obsessed with analyzing COVID-19 in the stools. Next generation sequencing, which is what we do, allows us to see the whole virus in its entire form,” explained Hazan. Of her eight patients, Hazan found that all had a whole COVID-19 genetic sequence in the stool.

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