CLICK HERE to read about the amazing findings in young autism patients treated with fecal transplantation.
Have cleanliness and antibiotics improved our lives? Of course they have...but like most phenomena in the natural world, there is a price. Click HERE to check out the latest from the New York Times.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a very common condition, with 200,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. You certainly know someone who has it. You may even have it yourself. It is a long-term ailment of inflammation in the large intestine, often with intermittent "flares" of severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and bleeding. The cause is unknown, but it is believed that something triggers the body's immune system to be unnecessarily and inappropriately "revved up," causing illness.
Treatments for UC have typically centered around efforts to inhibit this immune activity. Because patients suffering with UC have been found to have significant alterations in their gut microbiomes, scientists and doctors have wondered if, as in C. diff, efforts to change the microbiome might have a role in therapy. Studies thus far, however have been rather mixed and inconclusive.
However, a small, blinded Australian study published last week in JAMA offers more hope. 32% of participants receiving donor fecal transplant went into remission (results very similar to the usual medications used to treat UC), as opposed to only 9% of those transplanted with their own stool. The primary difference in this study design vs. prior ones was the fact that oxygen was excluded from the preparation of the transplanted stool because it is believed that a significant portion of the "helpful" bacteria might be anaerobic, that is, they might die in the presence of oxygen.
While more research is certainly needed, this would seem to be a very promising result!
Researchers at the University of Delaware--collaborating with the energy and environmental research company ARCTECH--have shown how microbes living in the guts of termites can convert coal to methane, a process that could help turn a major source of pollution into cleaner energy.
Most gut bacteria recover quickly, but, as this New York Times article illustrates, there CAN be long-lasting consequences.
The article linked here was published last week out of the University of Virginia and alludes to the challenges faced by the sheer magnitude of data--and nearly infinite interactions--that must be assessed and considered when trying to understand the human microbiome. Good job UVA, and kudos to Dr. Papin and Mr. Medlock for "taking a step back." This may be an example of "one step back and two steps forward"!
Membership in halfhuman.org affords the opportunity to identify the specific microorganisms inhabiting your own body. While our understanding of what this information means and how it can be used is in its infancy, it obviously provides a source of great personal information. How are we as individuals different, and why? Perhaps less obvious, however, is the "greater good." The members of halfhuman.org have the opportunity to contribute to the collective fund of knowledge which may ultimately lead to unimaginable breakthroughs in the human condition. How cool (and rare) is that?!
Additionally, in cooperation with GI Associates, the largest gastroenterology medical practice in Mississippi (and one of the largest in the South), halfhuman.org will help streamline, coordinate, and study the fecal transplant programs in local hospitals.
The triumphant publication of the human genome sequence was subsequently deemed by some as incomplete until the interactions between humans and their resident microbes are understood. This process will occupy thousands of geneticists, microbiologists, physicians, mathematicians, computer programmers, and social scientists for the rest of this century, and halfhuman.org is finding its place among them. Our journey has begun. Join us!
October 10, 2018