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Thousands of health innovators and investors descended upon San Francisco in early January for the J.P Morgan Healthcare Conference and the Biotech Showcase in hopes of discovering the next major development in healthcare. A big area of excitement? Using bugs to transform health.

Over the past decade, these events have been — and continue to be — a mainstay for emerging companies eager to court pharma and investors, all with a similar goal of hoping to one day realize the potential of their technology. The area of focus where collaborations form and investment dollars flow is a strong indication of emerging opportunities in healthcare. And this year, bugs were big. There was noticeable excitement around companies harnessing the science and potential of the microbiome — the community of the microbial organisms that live in, on and around us — to develop unique health solutions.

These companies are targeting the microbiome using a variety of development approaches across therapeutics, diagnostics, and consumer health. Areas of focus range from treating lactose intolerance with a targeted compound, to modulating the immune system by increasing the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, to developing personalized nutrition insights based on individual gut microbiomes — and those are just a few applications. The wide variety of approaches represent a more holistic view of health where microbiome-based health solutions can be used to treat, prevent and intercept disease.

Ideas in Action

Watch the videos below to hear from some of the microbiome companies that were in San Francisco and the different approaches they’re taking to translate their science into products.

Many of these companies are at the forefront of microbiome-based product development. But one thing they all agree on is that they can’t go about it alone. One of the themes from this year’s conference was the importance of collaboration in giving credence to the potential of this new science. The Janssen Human Microbiome Institute (JHMI), with its networks across the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, is actively partnering with microbiome innovators to help navigate the challenges that come with product development to deliver microbiome-based health solutions to patients and consumers.

Sometimes, the best decisions are made when you follow your gut. The JHMI believes healthcare will be transformed by researching and investing in it.