Friday, February 22, 2019

Researchers Discover Almost 2,000 New Gut Bacteria

According to numerous recent studies, human gut bacterial populations are capable of influencing various aspects of our physical and mental health. Despite this, many bacteria remain "unmapped" by scientists. A new study has now uncovered approximately 2,000 previously unknown gut bacteria.

Recent studies covered by Medical News Today have shown that the gut microbiota could have a role in Parkinson's disease and dementia, and they may explain why type 2 diabetes medication works well for some but not for others.

New research — appearing yesterday in the journal Nature — has now identified almost 2,000 new gut bacterial species that scientists have never cultured in a lab before.

"In this study," Almeida explains, "we leveraged the most comprehensive public databases of gastrointestinal bacteria to identify bacterial species that have not been seen before. The analysis methods we used are highly reproducible and can be applied to larger, more diverse datasets in the future, enabling further discovery."

In the future, the researchers hope that this and similar studies will further aid their understanding of the human gut, which, in turn, will contribute to developing better treatments of a variety of conditions.

Research such as this is helping us create a so-called blueprint of the human gut, which, in the future, could help us understand human health and disease better and could even guide diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases."

At the same time, the team notes that the present study has made the researchers more aware of a large gap in research around gut bacteria.

Scientists currently know relatively little about bacterial species that are characteristic of populations other than those inhabiting Europe and North America, the investigators emphasize. "We are seeing a lot of the same bacterial species crop up in the data from European and North American populations. However, the few South American and African datasets we had access to for this study revealed significant diversity not present in the former populations," notes Finn.

My Take:
Almeida and Finn were co-authors of the study. I posted this blog to emphasis how little we know about the composition of the human microbiome. Yet every day I see new patients taking a host of probiotics having no knowledge whether the strains they are ingesting are compatible with their gut flora.

The hype seems to be greater numbers (in the billions) and greater variety, the better the product. Actually, just the reverse is true.

Bottom Line:
If you choose to take a probiotic, keep it simple. Limit it to a few varieties of Lactobacillus, like acidophilus and/or Bifidobacterium, like bifidum. These are the most commonly found probiotics in humans. However, not all of us have these strains and you may have an adverse effect.

Source: February 20, 2019 NIH

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