News / Health

Scientists Explore Gut Reaction to Disease

Scientists Explore Gut Microbes Reaction to Diseasei
X
March 06, 2013 10:28 PM
The human body contains roughly 10 trillion human cells . . . and harbors 100 trillion microbes - naturally-occurring bacteria that can be helpful, even essential to our health. Taken together, all these microscopic residents comprise what’s called the human microbiome. To expand our knowledge of this complex symbiosis, a new “citizen science” project has reached out for public funding . . . and microbial samples, too, from thousands of people, from all walks of life, from around the world. From Boulder Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports about the American Gut Project.

Scientists Explore Gut Microbes Reaction to Disease

Shelley Schlender
The human body harbors 100 trillion microbes, naturally occurring bacteria that can be helpful, even essential to our health. The microbes in our gut, or gastro-intestinal tract, help us digest our food and keep disease-causing bacteria at bay. 

University of Colorado scientist Rob Knight is trying to learn what nutrients promote the beneficial ones, and understand how they interact.

“What this research could ultimately lead to is a world where no infectious disease goes undiagnosed,” he says.

To achieve that goal, Knight needs lots of microbes, from lots of people. To collect them, he’s launched an online campaign called the American Gut project.

People around the world are invited to take part. They are sent a questionnaire about their diet, their health and their use of antibiotics, along with sterile cotton swabs to rub on their tongue, or their hands or their forehead. Subjects even run the swabs over their used toilet paper so Knight can obtain samples of their personal microbes. Then, they return the packet to Knight’s lab.

Lab director, Chris Lauber, who says that most studies of the human microbiome focus on lab animals or people with a specific illness, is confident the open-ended nature of the American Gut Project will reveal new information.

"Anybody can enroll, and we don’t care what their disease state is and whether they’re on antibiotics," Lauber says. "We just want to know about them. And what microbes are in their gut.”

A growing body of research indicates it’s easy to kill off these gut microbes, through malnutrition, overuse of antibiotics, junk food and pollution. For example, in countries with traditional diets and less antibiotic use, allergies, asthma and autoimmune disease are less common than they are in Western countries. 

Changes to gut microbes may even contribute to the worldwide epidemic of obesity and diabetes, which is why Second Genome CEO Peter DiLaura says his company is sponsoring sampling kits for 100 Type 2 diabetics.

“We’re really focused on working with Rob and the team at American Gut to understand in detail the microbial communities and the microbiome for this epidemic,” DiLaura says.

Second Genome hopes to develop pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals for diabetes treatment based on what is discovered about the microbes in our guts.

But Knight says the immediate goal is to continue gathering important data, and he encourages everyone to participate in the sampling:      

“You should participate if you have a fundamental interest in what microbes are living on and inside of your body," he says. "And also if you want to contribute to medical research that might someday provide useful information to you or to other people.”

Everyone who participates in the American Gut project will receive a summary of the microbes in their sample plus feedback about their foodlog and their health questionnaire. 

They can also donate scholarships to sample the microbes of people in developing nations, and volunteer to be part of future research.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid