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Cosmetic Ingredients Report By ACTIVON Lab Vol. 03

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

The concept of Microbiome

Microbiome is a compound word of microbiota and genome, which generally refers to all microorganisms and their genetic material present in a specific site, such as skin or digestive tract. Human microbiome means a collection of resident flora, commensal bacterium and pathogens that coexist with the human body. 95% of all microorganisms in the human body are present in the digestive organs including the large intestine. And the other 5% are widely distributed in respiratory organs, reproductive organs, oral cavity, skin, and etc. Microbiomes account for only 1 to 3% of human body weight, but are estimated to be 4x1013 more than the number of somatic cells. In addition, the microbiome is expressed as a 'forgotten organ' due to its importance, such as affecting human immune function, response to drugs, and metabolism.

The fact that microbiome has a great effect on the human body was proved in 2006 by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon's experiments with obese and lean mice. (Figure 1) As a result of injecting the feces of obese and lean mice into aseptic mice respectively, it was confirmed that mice injected with feces of obese mice became obese within a shorter time. He published a study that showed the intestinal microbiome differs between obese and lean people. After that, the result of injecting feces of obese and lean twins into aseptic mice, it was also confirmed that mice injected with feces from obese donor increased fat faster. And that was published in Science in 2013. As a result, it was found that microbiome in the intestine is related to obesity, and studies on the correlation between microbiome and various diseases have been actively conducted.

Fig. 1 experiment with obese and lean mice

The concept of Probiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics are microbiota-management tools for improving host health. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that have a beneficial effect on the host intestinal environment when ingested and reach the human intestine. Most probiotics are known as lactic acid producing bacteria, and most of them are already known as beneficial bacteria.

Prebiotics are defined as a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit. Current prebiotics are predominantly carbohydrate-based.

Fig 2. Prebiotics, Probiotics and Postbiotics

Recently, research has been focused on change the human gut microbiota composition through the administered in probiotics and prebiotics. Quantitative and qualitative alterations to the intestinal microbiota are involved in many diseases, including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBD). In addition, gut microbiota are involved in enteric infection by bacterial pathogen susceptibility and autoimmune rheumatic disease. Recent studies suggested that gut microbiota played a major role in signaling communication between gut and brain, which modulates immune, gut and CNS function. Therefore, it began to recognize that the gut microbiome has a great effect on human health and disease.

The introduction of next-generation sequencing (NGS) changed the history of genomic research as it increased sequencing throughput, and did not require prior cloning step. This revolutionary advance in sequencing technology led the way to microbiome research. The NGS technology have facilitated human microbiome research, and enabled the exploration of uncultured microbial communities.

The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) are now being launched concurrently worldwide, including in the United States, Europe and Asia. The US National Institutes of Health funded the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) consortium, and the European Commission funds to the metagenomic of the human intestinal tract (Meta-HIT), aimed at understanding the role of the microbiome in human health.

Microbiome Industry

According to the ‘Statusand Prospects of Global Microbiome Industry’ report by Biotech Policy Research Center, global microbiome industry is expected to grow to US$ 1086 in 2023 as against US$ 811 in 2019.

Microbiome industry is segmented into the following sub-markets.

Although current microbiome industry mainly consists of functional products related to probiotics, pharmaceutical companies and bioventures are moving into this industry with the aim of diagnosis of diseases and cures based on research findings about gut microbiome and its association with diseases. Development of cures for various diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s will create vast opportunities for market expansion so that it encompasses personalized food, personal care products and patient specific treatments.

The article will be continued in our next issue, focusing on microbiome applications in the cosmetic industry.


- Byung-yong Kim, “The research trend of Human microbiome: With a focus on gut microbiome”, BioINpro, vol.33, 2017

- Samjong KPMG Economic Research Institute, “Microbiome Revolution”, Issue Monitor, vol.120, 2020

- Sekyoo Jeong, “Skin microbiome for cosmetic application”, The journal of Skin Barrier Research, vol.21, 2019

- Biotech Policy Research Center, “Status and Prospects of Global Microbiome Industry”, BioINdustry, 2019

- Jung-Sook Lee, “Rediscovery of gut microbiota: Microbiome”, BioINpro, vol.68, 2019

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