Bugs as Drugs

The role of gut bacteria has been well-established for diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s and has even been shown to play a role in depression, infertility, alcoholism and HIV progression. Starting in 2013, the US FDA began to regulate fecal transplantation as a way to re-establish healthy gut microbiota to patients with gastrointestinal disease or who have had their normal bacterial flora disrupted by antibiotics. These procedures has shown tremendous potential (reviews HERE and HERE). Recently, scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute grew and catalogued 137 bacterial species, many previously “unculturable”, from the guts of healthy patients. This work will lay the foundation to determine the role that specific bacteria play in specific diseases as well as determining a proper combination of species required for treatment, potentially allowing fecal transplantation to be replaced by defined, active cultures in pill form. Additionally, for the first time this work demonstrated that 50-60% of bacteria in the intestinal microbiota for resistant spores, allowing for host-to-host transmission.

‘Bugs’ as Drugs: Harnessing novel gut bacteria for human health

endotoxin microbiome

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