In the 1940s Sir Alexander Fleming released the antibiotic Penicillin to the public transforming modern medicine forever. The emergence of antibiotics has had a profound impact on our lives, helping to increase our average life span from 56 to nearly 80 years (Ventola 2015). Antibiotics are an effective tool in fighting infection and have greatly reduced surgical complications. However, the flurry of excitement around these wonder drugs quickly went away. It was realized that the very microbes these drugs were supposed to be fighting were actually making them stronger and eventually became resistant to them.Continue reading “The Selflessness of Bacteria is Making Our Drugs Less Effective”
They always say that you are what you eat. In recent years, there have been an increasing amount of studies looking at the various microbes that live in and on you, and how your habits impact them. These large number of microbes are what comprises your microbiome. Understanding how they are impacted by lifestyle is becoming a well studied area of microbiology. Previous studies in this field have shown that certain types of these microbiota can have positive or negative effects on the overall function of an organism (Human Microbiome Project Phase II). Certain types of microbes have shown to be associated with various diseases of the gut. Many of these microbes have the ability to cause major health concerns among the human population, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, obesity, and autoimmune disease (Pittayanon et al., 2019 and Marietta et al., 2019).
Being able to characterize our differences based on diet can begin to help us be able to get our microbiomes to a “healthy” state, (what is relatively healthy for the individual, not necessarily an overlapping term for everyone). This will also help with these diseases so they don’t plague the population in such high amounts as they do now. We can potentially do this through looking at the nutrient content within our chosen diets and how that diet relates to the number of microbiota and subsequently how those microbiota impact the body. That’s exactly what the authors of a recent study did (Losasso et al., 2018).Continue reading “What Did I Eat? Or How Did the Critters in Your Food End Up in Your Gut”
In 1996, Kenneth Wilson and Rhonda Blitchington pioneered the use of DNA sequencing to analyze the composition of microbes in human fecal samples (Wilson and Blitchington 1996). Since then, studies around the world have investigated the specific make-up of the human gut microbiome via sequencing technologies. The most common way to analyze the composition of the microbiome is Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). The use of NGS has identified of a large number of microorganisms found in the human gut.
Analysis of sequence data can identify types, abundances, and shifts in the composition of the gut microbiome of people with medical conditions and health concerns. Finding potential links between diseased states and the makeup of the human gut microbiome begins with DNA analysis of the “condition” gut, and continues with comparison to the types and abundances of microbiota in the “healthy” human gut.Continue reading “Defining the Core: the Human Gut Pan-Microbiome”
To the general public, the idea that there are tiny organisms living all around (and inside) of us might be a scary concept. Naturally, if all the news you get on a regular basis is concerning the totally-terrifying E. Coli that can give you food poisoning, or that fiendish-foe influenza–it’s not surprising that people often have negative reactions to the term “microbe.” The reality is that we’re mostly made up of microbes, we encounter them every day, and most of the time they’re harmless or even beneficial! In fact, we often use microbes to ferment sugars so we can make things like yogurt and bread, and just as we use these microbes for our own benefit–plants can do the same!Continue reading “Leafy Greens and Friends: who’s hangin’ out on your lettuce?”
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects 1-3% of the world’s population and is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, such as diet, stress-level, skin-care routine, etc. (Alekseyenko et al., 2013). People with psoriasis suffer from lesions (often called plaques) of dry, red, itchy, inflamed, and often “scaly” skin (Langley et al., 2005). Lesions are created, in part, by an overactive inflammatory response in the skin, as well as the increased division of specific cells of the epidermis. In the recent past, researchers have specifically identified immune cells that play a role in this process by producing chemicals that increase inflammation (Chang et al., 2018; Lowes et al., 2008). Continue reading “The skin microbiome and psoriasis: An emerging relationship”
Differences between human males and females can be large or small; one of our largest problems in the more recent years may be influenced by a very small thing, or things rather. It turns out that the microbes living in our gut can affect our metabolism of fats (Eldin et al, 2016), impacting fat storage and digestion in the body.
In the paper by Baars et al (2018), the authors investigated the differences in male and female lipid (fat) metabolism, responsible for the breakdown and storage of fats (Goldberg, 2018), by looking at their gut microbes. These authors are researching this difference in lipid metabolism based on the previous study done by Sugiyama, M. G. and L. B. Agellon (2012) that suggested that microbes and host sex can influence the metabolism. In this study, the authors are testing whether or not the bacteria in our gut has an effect on the lipid metabolism in our bodies, specifically between males and females.Continue reading “Does Gut Microbiota Influence Lipid Metabolism in the Sexes?”
Microbial colonization in infants gut influences human physiology, including the maturation of the immune system, nutrient absorption and metabolism, and the protection against pathogen colonization (Buffie and Pamer, 2013). Several factors including the mode of delivery (Dominguez-Bello et al., 2010, 2016), gestational age at birth (La Rosa et al., 2014), maternal and infant antibiotic usage (Lemas et al., 2016) and feeding method (formula or breastfeeding) (Backhed et al., 2015) are very important to the early development of the infant microbiome. Wider environmental exposure (H. Shin et al., 2015) and early intimate relations, particularly with the mother, also play a key role in the early microbial development of an infant. Microbiomes are responsible for different diseases of infants like asthma, diabetes, obesity etc (Nagpal et al. 2018). While the importance of the host-microbiome interplay is not in question, the mechanisms by which an infant acquires these microbes, and from what source, remain largely unexplored. Just a few months ago, a study demonstrated that the maternal microbiome is an important source in the early development of microbial species and strains in the infant gut (Korpela et al., 2018). Yet there has been no comprehensive assessment of the multiple potential maternal sources (like skin, breast milk, fecal, vaginal, oral ect.) of microbial transmission, and how ultimately they contribute to the development of the infant microbiome within hours of birth and over the first few months of life.Continue reading “Microbiome from Maternal Body Sites Helps to Develop Infants Gut Microbiome”
The skin is our largest organ and plays an important role in our health and well being. One key role of our skin is preventing infections by acting as a physical barrier to pathogens and secreting antimicrobial enzymes in our sweat (Parham, 2015). However, whether from genetic or environmental factors, sometimes this defense system goes wrong.
What in the world is ADHD you might ask? ADHD stands for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and it is a common mental disorder that is found in school-aged children, but can also affect many adults (Parekh et al. 2017)! Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. If you have ever driven a vehicle without power-steering, you might have experienced the vehicle steering less sharply than what was intended by the driver. Some people describe their experience of having ADHD as if their brain is doing this! With ADHD, you might find yourself having to put in a lot more effort in a specific task just to avoid going off of the road.Continue reading “Little life-forms inside your head!”
In 2016, the CDC reported that 8.3% of children have asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which airways become inflamed and narrowed. The cause of asthma is unknown, but scientists suspect that genetics, infections as a child, and exposure to certain allergens or viruses may have an impact on one’s development of asthma. There is no cure for this disease, although there are medicines that can help reduce an asthmatic person’s symptoms. (NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
Previous research has shown that children who grow up on traditional dairy farms have an apparent protection from asthma due to high levels of microbial exposure (Ege et al 2011). The problem is that researchers have been unable to define the exact effect that these microbes have on the immune systems of dairy farm children. Stein et al (2016) developed a protocol that would hopefully bridge the gap of the causes and effects of the dairy farm lifestyle and immunity against asthma.Continue reading “Another One Bites the Dust: Kicking Asthma to the Curb”