Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 7, 123-129 (February 2008) | doi:10.1038/nrd2505

OpinionGut microbiota: a potential new territory for drug targeting

Wei Jia1, Houkai Li1, Liping Zhao1 & Jeremy K. Nicholson2  About the authors


The significant involvement of the gut microbiota in human health and disease suggests that manipulation of commensal microbial composition through combinations of antibiotics, probiotics and prebiotics could be a novel therapeutic approach. A systems perspective is needed to help understand the complex host–bacteria interactions and their association with pathophysiological phenotypes so that alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota in disease states can be reversed. In this article, we describe the therapeutic rationale and potential for targeting the gut microbiota, and discuss strategies and systems-oriented technologies for achieving this goal.

Author affiliations

  1. Wei Jia, Haukai Li and Liping Zhao are at the School of Pharmacy and at the Institute for Systems Biomedicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, People's Republic of China.
  2. Jeremy K. Nicholson is at the Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Division of Surgery Oncology Reproductive Biology and Anaesthetics, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Correspondence to: Wei Jia1 Email:


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