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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid