Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blood Type or Gut Type?

Big news in the world of bacteria! Scientists at European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany have made some fascinating discoveries about the human gut. These studies are not nearly complete but have already shown that the microbes of the human gut ecosystem can be put into three distinct categories much like blood types.

What is so truly incredible about these studies is that these categories transcend all boundaries of age, sex, height, weight, health, and so far even ethnicity. The categories that have been developed are known as enterotypes. These enterotypes have shown to favor certain enzymes to synthesize vitamins and aid in digestion. Type 1 was seen to produce more enzymes for making the vitamin B7 while Type 2 favors for Vitamin B1. This discovery has the immense possibilities for the medical community in the form of tailored diets for patients and even a better understanding of what medications work better for certain people while they do not work as well for others.

This research was done with stool samples from 25 Europeans from Denmark, France, Spain, and Italy which were then compared to 13 Japanese samples. All of these samples as well as 154 American and 85 Dane samples could all be put neatly into the three enterotypes. This is an astounding discovery seeing as the last distinct categories that were found was the blood typing system that is used today.

In all research there is going to be some limitations and this research is no different. More research is definitely necessary especially in non-industrialized nations with much different diets than the industrialized countries that were studied.

Scientists hope that this discovery will help the medical field in finding alternatives for antibiotics, which are not nearly as effective as they once were because of continued resistance. This could also help with assessment and diagnosis of patients because not only can they search the patient’s body but this not gives them the ability to investigate the bacteria within the person as well. Treatment could also be aided with more personalized care from knowing better how the individual’s body works.

The expectations for this research are high with the whole medical community looking forward to the finished results and the vast effects in can have in their field as well. Much more research with more varied samples is definitely necessary but this is an astounding discovery the world should be very excited for the possibilities.


Sources:

Zimmer, Carl. "Bacterial Ecosystems Divide People Into 3 Groups, Scientists Say." The New York Times. 20 Apr. 2011. Web. 17 July 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/science/21gut.html?_r=2&ref=microbiology

Bork, Peer. "Enterotypes of the Human Gut Microbiome." Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 08 June 2011. Web. 17 July 2011. .

Arumugam, M., Raes, J. et al. Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome. Nature Advance Online Publication 20 April 2011. DOI:10.1038/nature09944.

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