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Solarea Bio Teams up with Hebrew SeniorLife Investigators on a Newly Awarded U.S. National Academy of Medicine Catalyst Grant

Healthy Longevity Initiative Grant Awarded to Study the Mycobiome as a Novel Class of Probiotics to Target Inflammaging

BOSTON – Solarea Bio, a biotechnology company in Cambridge, Mass., and leading researchers at Harvard Medical School affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife, New England’s largest nonprofit provider of senior health care and living communities, are co-investigators on a competitive research grant from the U.S. National Academy of Medicine’s Healthy Longevity Initiative.

Solarea Bio, along with Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center, Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, and Shivani Sahni, Ph.D., Director, Nutrition Program, Marcus Institute, received the grant.

According to the researchers, “An aging population has led to a significant global increase in age-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and others. At the core of this is chronic low-grade inflammation known as inflammaging, and recent evidence describes the gut microbiome as a key regulator of the inflammaging process through direct impact on immune system development and function.” 

However, while the impact bacteria have on the immune system and human health is well described, fungi, a major component of the gut microbiome, have been largely overlooked due to multiple factors including fungi’s large, complex genomes that require deep sequencing and a hybrid assembly, lack of fungal genome databases for functional gene prediction, and underdeveloped bioinformatic tools to identify fungal metabolites important to human health. 

The researchers hypothesize that the “mycobiome” (the collection of fungi that are part of the overall microbiome) could offer a large, untapped reservoir of probiotic fungi with the ability to combat inflammaging. Based on this hypothesis, the team will be working to sequence a subset of a large fungal collection and develop bioinformatic tools to identify fungi with probiotic potential. Lead candidate fungi will be tested using in vitro cell culture systems to identify fungi with anti-inflammatory properties that may then be further tested clinically. 

About the Healthy Longevity Initiative
The Healthy Longevity Initiative is designed to kick start innovation to support healthy longevity through a series of monetary awards and prizes. In the tradition of international races to fly across the Atlantic or walk on the moon, the initiative will rally the world’s greatest minds to achieve what may at first seem an impossible goal.

About the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research
Scientists at the Boston-based Marcus Institute seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity, and productivity into advanced age. The Marcus Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment, and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making.

About Hebrew SeniorLife
Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching, and redefining the possibilities of aging. Hebrew SeniorLife cares for more than 3,000 seniors a day across six campuses throughout Greater Boston. Our locations include: Hebrew Rehabilitation Center-Boston and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center-NewBridge in Dedham; NewBridge on the Charles, Dedham; Orchard Cove, Canton; Simon C. Fireman Community, Randolph; Center Communities of Brookline, Brookline; and Jack Satter House, Revere. Founded in 1903, Hebrew SeniorLife also conducts influential research into aging at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, which has a portfolio of more than $63 million, making it the largest gerontological research facility in the U.S. in a clinical setting. It also trains more than 1,000 geriatric care providers each year. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit https://www.hebrewseniorlife.org or follow us on our blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About Solarea Bio
Solarea Bio is a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Mass. developing new microbiome-based solutions to some of the world's largest health problems. Solarea was founded in 2017 by a group of scientists and entrepreneurs eager to radically alter our understanding of the human microbiome and utilize its power to improve human health. Solarea's breakthrough came from the combined efforts of the company's co-founders who established a link between the discovery of an untapped source of microorganisms with probiotic potential in healthy foods, and their applications in inflammatory processes including the gut-musculoskeletal axis.