Course information

Title: Award in the roles and implications of microbiota on human health: A therapeutic approach
Language: English
Qualification Type: Award
Country: Malta
Status: Available
Level EQF: Level 7
Level MQF: Level 7
ECTS Points: 3

Course intended for

  • Learners holding a Bachelor’s degree in sciences seeking to specialize at MQF Level 7 in scientific research in the fields of cell culture, virology and chemistry.
  • Medical doctors practicing medicine with patients either in the public health sector or in the private sector.
  • Professionals working in the Life Sciences research & development sectors, who hold tertiary level qualifications and wish to pursue CPD options in the fields of cell culture, virology and chemistry fields of cell culture, virology and chemistry.

Course relationship to occupation/s

This programme will not lead to any warranted or regulated profession. It is meant to provide education and training in a particular niche that is developing rapidly in Malta. This programme can be of interest to personnel working in laboratories related to life sciences, virology, chemists, biologists and researchers within Higher Education Institutions.

Course objectives

The learner will be able to understand the impact that an alteration in the human microbiota will have on health. The learner will be informed on all the recent studies that have suggested that these complex microbial communities, intended as microbiomes or more generally biomes, can significantly affect human health and can modulate clinical outcomes of infections but can also be beneficial to the host by Inter-kingdom biome-biome and biome-host interactions.

In addition, the learner will be able to learn the importance of using next generation sequencing (NGS) tools to be able to identify any microorganisms present in human sample without the need to grow them. Moreover, the learner will understand how in- vitro cell culture techniques are used to explore the biological effects of isolated molecules.

The learner will be able to understand the process of identifying a culture through DNA techniques, including real time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and DNA purification. The learner will understand how to interpret the data obtained from the DNA techniques in terms of the microbiota and develop some understanding as to how that will impact overall health.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge

  • Learn how DNA techniques are applied for identifying the microbiota.
  • Understand the impact that changes in the microbiota can have on the body.
  • Understand that the changes in the microbiota can be indicative of future health problems and consider methods to correct the microbiota before illnesses or infections arise.

Skills

  • Understand the importance of proper sampling to avoid contamination.
  • Learn how DNA techniques are applied for identifying the microbiota.
  • Understand the impact that changes in the microbiota can have on the body.
  • Understand that the changes in the microbiota can be indicative of future health problems and consider methods to correct the microbiota before illnesses or infections arise.

Method of assessment

  • Assignment (9 hours) – The assignment is to be done as self-work after lecturing hours.
  • Examination (1 hour) – The exam consists of ten short answer questions (c. 100-200 words). The pass mark of the exam is 50%.  Each question has 10 marks allocated to correct answer.

Entry requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree at MQF Level 6 in Medicine, Pharmacy, Biology, Chemistry, Natural Sciences, Ecology, Genetics, Bioengineering, Health Sciences, or higher
  • Students should be familiar with the scientific approach in conducting research, with knowledge of standard laboratory procedures and testing. The course is aimed to attract recent graduates working in the pharmaceutical sector that would like to further their employability skills and knowledge.
  • The course is delivered in English and will have very technical terminology, so the level of written and spoken English must be high at least MQF Level 4.
  • Students having a degree or diploma of MQF level 5 or 6 in science are automatically considered to be computer literate, however in any case where digital competence needs to be measured, the student must be in possession of the European Computer Driving Licence.

Core reading list

  1. Putignani L., Paglia, M.G., D’Arezzo S. and Visca P. “DNA-Based Detection of Human Pathogenic Fungi: Dermatophytes, Opportunists, and Causative Agents of Deep Mycoses”. Invited Chapter In: Current Advances in Molecular identification of fungi, DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-05042-8_17, November 2009, Springer Berlin Heidelberg
  2. Cuív, P. Ó., De Cárcer, D. A., Jones, M., Klaassens, E. S., Worthley, D. L., Whitehall, V. L., … & Morrison, M. (2011). The effects from DNA extraction methods on the evaluation of microbial diversity associated with human colonic tissue. Microbial ecology, 61(2), 353-362.
  3. Wagner Mackenzie, B., Waite, D. W., & Taylor, M. W. (2015). Evaluating variation in human gut microbiota profiles due to DNA extraction method and inter-subject differences. Frontiers in microbiology, 6, 130.
  4. Rohland, Nadin, and Michael Hofreiter. “Ancient DNA extraction from bones and teeth.” Nature protocols 2.7 (2007): 1756.
  5. Lodhi, M. A., Ye, G. N., Weeden, N. F., & Reisch, B. I. (1994). A simple and efficient method for DNA extraction from grapevine cultivars andVitis species. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter, 12(1), 6-13.
  6. Cenis, J. L. (1992). Rapid extraction of fungal DNA for PCR amplification. Nucleic acids research, 20(9), 2380.
  7. Miller, D. N., Bryant, J. E., Madsen, E. L., & Ghiorse, W. C. (1999). Evaluation and optimization of DNA extraction and purification procedures for soil and sediment samples. Applied and environmental microbiology, 65(11), 4715-4724.
  8. Human gut microbiota: onset and shaping through life stages and perturbations, 2nd Edition, ISBN: 978-2-88919-205-2, Frontiers Research Topic Ebook
  9. Mariela Bustamante & B. Dave Oomah & Wanderley P. Oliveira & César Burgos-Díaz & Mónica Rubilar & Carolina Shene (2020) Probiotics and prebiotics potential for the care of skin, female urogenital tract, and respiratory tract. Folia Microbiologica 65:245–264
  10. Angélica T. Vieira, Mauro M. Teixeira and Flaviano S. Martins (2013) The role of probiotics and prebiotics in inducing gut immunity. Frontiers in Immunology 4:445
  11. Erika Isolauri (2004) The role of probiotics in paediatrics, Current Paediatrics, Volume 14, Issue 2: 104-109,
  12. Mary-Margaret Kober, Whitney P. Bowe (2015) The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology Volume 1, Issue 2: 85-89,
  13. Blaser, M.J. (2006) Who are we? Indigenous microbes and the ecology of human diseases. EMBO Rep. 7, 956–960
  14. Liang, D. et al. (2018) Involvement of gut microbiome in human health and disease: brief overview, knowledge gaps and research opportunities. Gut Pathog 10
  15. Kights, D. et al. (2014) Complex host genetics influence the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease. Genome Med 6, 107
  16. Layeghifard, M. et al. (2017) Disentangling Interactions in the Microbiome: A Network Perspective. Trends in Microbiology 25, 217–228
  17. Lazar, V. et al. (2018) Aspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and Cancer. Front. Immunol. 9,
  18. HORIZON PHC-5, TRACKING GUT MICROBIOTA DYSBIOSIS AND HOST RESPONSE TO PREVENT IBD AND IBS THROUGHOUT LIFE-DYSBIOTRACK, Coordinator PI, Putignani L., I round selection exceeded, II round under evaluation, 19 August 2014

Supplementary reading list

  1. Mastromarino, S. Macchia, L. Meggiorini, V. Trinchieri, L. Mosca, M. Perluigi and C. Midulla (2008) Effectiveness of Lactobacillus-containing vaginal tablets in the treatment of symptomatic bacterial vaginosis. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 15: 67-74
  2. Purchiaroni, A. Tortora, M. Gabrielli, F. Bertucci, G. Gigante, G. Ianiro, V. Ojetti, E. Scarpellini, A. Gasbarrini (2013) The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences 17: 323-333
  3. Michail, S. The role of Probiotics in allergic diseases. All Asth Clin Immun 5, 5 (2009).
  4. Maldonado Galdeano, G. Perdigón (2006) The Probiotic Bacterium Lactobacillus casei Induces Activation of the Gut Mucosal Immune System through Innate Immunity Clinical and Vaccine Immunology 13 (2) 219-226
  5. Eamonn MM Quigley (2011) Gut microbiota and the role of probiotics in therapy. Current Opinion in Pharmacology Volume 11, Issue 6:593-603
  6. Isolauri, Erikaa; Rautava, Samulia; Kalliomäki, Markoa; Kirjavainen, Pirkkab; Salminen, Seppob (2002) Role of probiotics in food hypersensitivity, Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: June 2002 – Volume 2 – Issue 3 – p 263-271
  7. Putignani L., Sanderson, S. J., Russo, C., Kissinger, J., Menichella, D. and Wastling, J. “Proteomic and genomic approaches to understanding the power plant of Cryptosporidium”, Invited Chapter In: Giardia and Cryptosporidium, CABI Book Publishing, ISBN: 9781845933913, December 2008.