Microbiome research: how does it relate to human health?



Microbiome research

The human microbiome is the term used for all microorganisms present in or on the human body. Scientists have been studying microbiomes for a long time, but only recently have they started to study the microbiome as a whole body system. Microbiome research is a relatively new area of ​​study. Falling costs and growing interest have led to a boom in microbiome research. Scientists encourage people to participate in studies because it provides valuable data, but what exactly do they learn from this information? What role does the microbiome play in human health? Here are the links between this research and human health.

Digestive diseases

Microbiome research may lead to new therapies for digestive diseases with the discovery of new antibiotics, probiotics, and prebiotics (a type of dietary fiber that supports “good” bacteria in the gut). Scientists through gut microbiome analysis service and other research methods are still studying which microbes cause problems or prevent them. For example, researchers have found that people with inflammatory bowel disease have different bacteria than those who don’t. Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by an abnormal immune response to the gut microbiota. Another group of scientists found that adding beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract could reduce diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics.

Improved testing methods

Microbiome research opens up possibilities for improved diagnostic tools and tests. These tests could be used to detect and monitor disease progression, identify people at high risk of developing specific diseases, and determine the most effective treatments. If the microbiome is found to be causing or contributing to a particular disease, tests could also be developed to allow doctors to diagnose it based on its unique microbial signature.

Drug development

Research on the microbiome can help scientists develop new drugs. Identifying bacteria involved in various processes will allow them to design drugs that target these specific bacteria. By studying how the microbiota communicates, they could find ways to regulate or prevent disease by influencing certain bacterial populations.

Recombinant Hylenex DNA is an example of how microbiome research helps scientists develop drugs. Recombinant Hylenex DNA (human injection of hyaluronidase) is used to treat inherited lymphedema and prevent pain after surgery. Knowing the bacteria involved in the production of hyaluronidase will help scientists develop a drug with the same function but fewer side effects.

Mental Health

Scientists have known for some time that microbes influence how neurotransmitters work in the brain. They are now starting to study this relationship more closely and discover ways to manipulate the gut microbiota in order to treat various mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Bacteria produce chemicals that communicate with the brain. These chemicals can act as neurotransmitters on their own or signal the body to make more serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (neurotransmitters that affect mood).

Currently, they are studying the effects of probiotics on mental health problems. Probiotics are live bacteria that can be found in some foods and supplements. In a separate study, scientists tested the effects of consuming probiotic yogurt versus consuming kefir (a fermented milk drink that naturally contains probiotics) on anxiety levels. They found that individuals who ate the yogurt had decreased levels of cortisol (cortisol is a hormone associated with stress) after performing stressful tasks, but those who drank kefir did not show this reduction.

These results allow scientists to better understand how gut bacteria affect mental health and will allow them to develop more effective treatments that target the microbiota.

Scientists believe the microbiome could influence autism as well. Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that causes problems with social and communication skills, as well as repetitive behaviors such as rocking back and forth. Researchers found that when children with autism were treated with antibiotics for gastrointestinal problems, they had less severe autism symptoms than before their treatment. The same effect was not seen when non-autistic children were treated with antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance

Researchers are currently studying the effect antibiotics have on the microbiota in order to fight against bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance occurs when a particular type of bacteria changes in such a way that the antibiotics used to treat it are no longer effective.

Bacteria communicated using chemical signals, scientists discovered by accident when they noticed that the release of these signals by one type of bacteria killed other types of bacteria in the same area. Using this knowledge, they treated bacterial infections caused by P. aeruginosa (a type of bacteria common in the lungs) with antibiotics that released chemical signals (quorum / QSI detection inhibitors). Although ISQs did not directly kill P. aeruginosa, they reduced its levels and prevented the development of antibiotic resistance so that the antibiotics could effectively kill the bacteria.

What’s more, scientists found that the microbiota could be used to fight antibiotic-resistant insects in another way: by changing how antibiotics work so that they can still destroy pathogenic bacteria but not healthy gut microbiota.

By developing new treatments and therapies to fight antibiotic resistance, researchers hope to prevent further damage from these dangerous infections.

Obesity and metabolic problems

Research on the microbiome could lead to a better understanding of obesity and related conditions such as metabolic disease, fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

Obese people have different gut bacteria than people of normal weight, even when they have a similar diet, suggesting that obesity has an effect on the gut microbiota. This discovery led to the idea of ​​treating obesity with “probiotics”, live bacteria found in yogurt, and supplements that can alter the microbiota, leading to weight loss. Yet, there is still a lot of research to be done here, as scientists are unsure whether this is an effective long-term treatment.

Allergies

Scientists are also studying the link between the microbiome and food allergies. People with celiac disease (inability to digest gluten) usually experience negative effects from eating products containing gluten. Now some scientists believe the microbiome might play a role in this. They found that when people with celiac disease ate foods containing gluten, they could do so without experiencing symptoms after receiving an intestinal bacteria transplant from healthy donors.

In another experiment, the scientists transplanted the microbiota from children with allergies to mice without germs. After transplantation, the mice were exposed to allergens such as peanuts and pollen. They found that 40% of these mice did not develop allergies after exposure to allergens compared to only 10% in a control group without microbiota transplant.

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Microbiome research

Microbiome research is a relatively new field of science, but it holds great potential for improving human health. Researchers are studying the effects of antibiotics and probiotics on the microbiota, how it affects people with autism and other mental illnesses, what effect gut bacteria have on obesity, and metabolic disorders such as type diabetes. 2, and whether or not microbiome transplants could be used as an effective allergy treatment.


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