GA-map®: the new standard for gut microbiome characterisation

December 6, 2022

Christina Casèn, Senior Vice President Clinical and Medical Affairs

 

The human gut microbiota plays an essential role in digestion and immunity, and a microbial imbalance – known as dysbiosis – is often an indicator of gastrointestinal health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This highlights the importance of understanding the bacterial composition in a patient’s gut to help diagnose illness and to enable timely and appropriate treatment, from antibiotics or probiotics to faecal microbiota transplants or lifestyle changes.

Genomic analysis tools can be used to identify the makeup of the gut microbiota, and repeated testing also allows clinicians to monitor disease severity and progress over time, making it possible to adapt treatment to each individual patient. Next generation sequencing (NGS) has historically been the most common choice for microbiota analysis worldwide, and can be used to sequence either entire genomes or targeted regions of DNA or RNA.

Genetic Analysis, a diagnostics company based in Oslo, Norway, has developed a new test, the GA-map® Dysbiosis Test Lx, which can aid in the diagnosis of dysbiosis. This novel probe-based technique takes advantage of nucleotide differences in the bacterial 16S rRNA gene to identify a highly specific panel of predetermined targets, selected from almost 300 species of bacteria. It uses cutting-edge high throughput technology to generate accurate and detailed profiles of a person’s gut microbiota in a single reaction, providing timely results and treatment.

A universal test for a common health problem

When it comes to analysing microbiota, standardisation and validation is crucial for ensuring comparable and reproducible results. This is because many microbiome characterisations are needed to track disease progress or efficacy of treatment for individual IBS and IBD patients over a long period of time, and the results can also be used to inform future care. Unfortunately, there is currently no standardised NGS test that can be widely used for microbiota analysis. This means that results are very much dependent on the specific method and testing platforms used, making it difficult to reliably compare results over time.1

NGS is also notorious for generating an enormous amount of data, not all of which is relevant or useful to the clinician. Analysing this bulk of information is time consuming and expensive, and many labs simply do not have access to the specialised bioinformaticians and analytical platforms needed. This causes huge bottlenecks, and means that the NGS bioinformatic analysis is frequently not deep enough, reducing the value of the results.

GA-map is the first CE-marked IVD test on the market providing microbiota profiles and dysbiosis status in IBS and IBD patients.2 Its GA-map analyser software algorithm automatically calculates the degree of dysbiosis in the sample (dysbiosis index) by comparing its bacterial abundance to a healthy reference population. Test results are then presented in an easily interpreted form, with bacterial species conveniently divided into several functional profiles. This targeted approach, with its clear and simplified report format, allows doctors to make rapid and well-informed decisions as to a patient’s treatment pathway, without incurring the substantial time and financial costs associated with NGS.

Getting out of the comfort zone

Despite the huge benefits of the GA-map Dysbiosis Test, most microbiota characterisations continue to be performed using NGS. The main reason for this may simply be a matter of habit. Many professionals working in this field are accustomed to the more established NGS method and have never used anything else, making it their obvious first choice for microbiota analysis.

GA-map is also relatively new to the market, meaning that it still has low visibility among industry professionals. Fortunately, an increasing number of researchers have discovered the efficiency and simplicity of using the test in clinical studies for gut microbiota analysis, and their findings are being published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals.1-5 This is surely helping to carve a space for GA-map in the area of gastrointestinal health, and is gradually raising awareness of this state-of-the-art new technique in healthcare settings.

BIOHIT HealthCare is the only UK distributor of the GA-map® Dysbiosis Test Lx.

To learn more about this revolutionary solution for gut microbiome characterisation, please visit:

https://biohithealthcare.co.uk/biohit-product/ga-map-dysbiosis-test-lx/

You can also find out more on the GA-map website: https://ga-map.com/

References

  1. Kumar A et al. 2022. Variability in the Pre-Analytical Stages Influences Microbiome Laboratory Analyses. Genes 13:1069. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes1306106
  2. Casén C et al. 2015. Deviations in human gut microbiota: a novel diagnostic test for determining dysbiosis in patients with IBS or IBD. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  3. Rej A et al. 2022. Efficacy and Acceptability of Dietary Therapies in Non-Constipated Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Trial of Traditional Dietary Advice, the Low FODMAP Diet, and the Gluten-Free Diet. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology [in press].
  4. Bennet SMP et al. 2017. Multivariate modelling of faecal bacterial profiles of patients with IBS predicts responsiveness to a diet low in FODMAPs. Gut microbiota 0:1–10. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313128
  5. El-Salhy M et al. 2019. Efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation for patients with irritable bowel syndrome in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gut microbiota 0:1–9. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319630


About BIOHIT HealthCare

BIOHIT HealthCare is a Finnish biotech company, headquartered in Helsinki, that specialises in the development, manufacture and distribution of kits and assays for the screening, diagnosis and monitoring of digestive diseases. Its core disease focus areas include stomach health and dyspepsia, reflux and acid dysregulation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID), Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gut microbiota dysbiosis. Innovating for Health www.biohithealthcare.co.uk

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