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Background: From consumption of fermented foods and probiotics to emerging applications of faecal microbiota transplantation, the health benefit of manipulating the human microbiota has been exploited for millennia. Despite this history, recent technological advances are unlocking the capacity for targeted microbial manipulation as a novel therapeutic. Aim: This review summarises the current developments in microbiome-based medicines and provides insight into the next steps required for therapeutic development. Methods: Here we review current and emerging approaches and assess the capabilities and weaknesses of these technologies to provide safe and effective clinical interventions. Key literature was identified through Pubmed searches with the following key words, ‘microbiome’, ‘microbiome biomarkers’, ‘probiotics’, ‘prebiotics’, ‘synbiotics’, ‘faecal microbiota transplant’, ‘live biotherapeutics’, ‘microbiome mimetics’ and ‘postbiotics’. Results: Improved understanding of the human microbiome and recent technological advances provide an opportunity to develop a new generation of therapies. These therapies will range from dietary interventions, prebiotic supplementations, single probiotic bacterial strains, human donor-derived faecal microbiota transplants, rationally selected combinations of bacterial strains as live biotherapeutics, and the beneficial products or effects produced by bacterial strains, termed microbiome mimetics. Conclusions: Although methods to identify and refine these therapeutics are continually advancing, the rapid emergence of these new approaches necessitates accepted technological and ethical frameworks for measurement, testing, laboratory practices and clinical translation.
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