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Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) receives an FDA safety alert due to adverse reactions in two individuals who underwent FMT and received stool from the same donor. The stool, infected with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) – a multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) and therefore very challenging to treat – was administered to two immunocompromised adults, resulting in one death. FDA Takeaway: The FDA identified that more screening is needed throughout the stool donor process, including specific questions addressing risk factors for MDRO stool colonization and rejection for those donors who are at high risk – as well as testing for MDRO colonization in donor stool. FMT is an FDA approved therapy for recurrent C. diff. While research shows that FMT may result in positive improvements for some other conditions – inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea – the…

The placenta could be the surprising reason why so many women get autoimmune diseases – even in women who have never been pregnant. Women are diagnosed with 80% of all autoimmune diseases in the U.S. Humans in hunter-gatherer communities have an average of 8 to 12 children – a stark contrast to today’s U.S. average, which is less than 2 children. During these years of childbearing, the placenta sends signals to the immune system to weaken in order to prevent rejection of the fetus. This constant weakening of immunity could be dangerous for the mother, so it’s hypothesized that other aspects of the female immune system are programmed to ramp up during adulthood to compensate (women actually contain more immunity genes than men, possibly for this very reason). It’s possible that because our bodies have evolved to bear such large numbers of children over hundreds of thousands of years, the…

Scientists have created E. coli bacteria using a 100% man-made genome. While the bacteria is “unusually shaped and reproducing slowly”, scientists say it’s alive and is four million base pairs long, four times larger than the synthetic genome built 9 years ago. The study was conducted so that scientists could better understand how living things code genetic information. Researchers believe this is possibly a first step in creating organisms that produce and deliver medicine and may also answer questions about the origin of the genetic code and how and why it’s constructed in such a “redundant” way. New York Times

Alternative and complimentary medicine websites make false claims about celiac disease and noncebiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) that may harm patients. A study published this month analyzed celiac disease and NCGS claims made by 500 websites of practitioners in 10 U.S. cities, including those of chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists, and integrative medicine practitioners. The American Journal of Gastroenterology Claims were classified as true, false, or unproven. Of 232 claims made by the practitioners, 138 of them were classified as false or unproven – nearly 60% of all claims. These claims were most often advertising techniques for diagnosing and treating celiac disease and NCGS. Diagnosis and treatment tools for both celiac disease and NCGS are not always readily available from conventional doctors, and therefore, patients often resort to online searches and non-physician medical practitioners to diagnose and treat their symptoms. While some of these practitioners are knowledgeable and their information scientifically based, some are…

Does a microbiome exist in utero, or is the environment sterile up to the moment the baby exits the womb? This has been an area of much debate in the scientific community. While some studies show the intrauterine environment to be sterile, others have uncovered bacteria in the uterus and placenta, showing that an intrauterine microbiome does in fact exist. A new review study adds evidence to the idea that if colonized, the intrauterine environment is contaminated. Researchers of the study propose that maternal stress causes a disruption of bacteria in one region of the mother’s body – oral cavity, gut, or vagina – triggering the transfer of bacteria (or what scientists refer to as bacterial translocation) to the intrauterine environment. This transfer of bacteria, scientists believe, may trigger an immune (or inflammatory) response that leads to neurodevelopment insufficiencies in the fetus. Science Direct Takeaway: While we are far from uncovering the truth…

A high level of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) dramatically reduces the risk of getting lung and colorectal cancer (CRC) and significantly increases survival rates. In one of the most diverse retrospective cohort studies, researchers analyzed data from over 49,000 participants with a median age of 54 years. Those with the highest CRF levels (>12 METs, measured using a treadmill stress test) possessed a 77% lower risk of lung cancer and a 61% lower risk of CRC than those with the lowest fitness levels (<6 METs). Participants diagnosed with cancer who were in the highest CRF range prior to diagnosis also saw great benefits. Following diagnosis, those with lung cancer had a 44% lower risk of all-cause mortality and those with CRC, an 89% lower risk, compared to those who were less fit. American Cancer Society Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study believe that these results act as some of the strongest evidence…

Did you know there’s a strong link between your oral and gut health… and in turn, your overall health? Think of the GI tract as one, continuous connection throughout your body, with your mouth serving as the main entrance point. Just like the gut microbiome, there are important bacteria in your mouth (which harbors over 700 different species) that not only help to keep your teeth healthy, but also serve as the first line of defense for your body. In fact, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology showed that gut microbiome balance starts in the mouth! The delicate ecosystem and interplay of the bacteria between our mouth and our gut (and our gut to our mouth) helps to prevent disease. Therefore, a balanced gut-oral microbiome axis is critical to our overall health and wellbeing. Oral bacteria can spread throughout the body and has been associated with a…

Altering the gut microbiome improves anxiety, but not with probiotics. Researchers analyzed 21 studies, including over 1,500 participants, which looked at altering gut bacteria to improve anxiety. 14 of the studies used probiotic interventions, while 7 of the studies used non-probiotic (or dietary) interventions. Results found that the non-probiotic interventions were significantly more successful in reducing anxiety than probiotic interventions. 45% of the probiotic interventions and 80% of the non-probiotic interventions had positive effects on anxiety. BMJ Takeaway: Researchers say that these results are consistent with the idea that food is the best way to ignite change in the gut microbiome. Secondly, the probiotic studies may have been less successful due to the fact that many of them used multi-strain probiotics, which resulted in differing microbial alterations, as well as a short study period (one to two months), which may not have allowed enough time for the probiotics to take root…

While colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality rates are decreasing in those 50 years of age and older, CRC in young adults is on the rise. New research sheds light on the differences between early and late onset CRC. Analyzing data from 36,000 patients, a recent study found that younger patients (aged 18 to 29 years) diagnosed with CRC are more likely to have specific genetic mutations and CRC sub-types, while older patients and those with predisposing conditions like inflammatory bowel disease have different clinical and genetic characteristics. Cancer  Takeaway: These very distinct differences in CRC between younger and older patients may affect how the cancer presents itself and may call for different types of treatments. The researchers who conducted the study are hoping for more studies looking at very young CRC patients and those with predisposing conditions. For more on early onset CRC, check out Did You Know – Colorectal Screening Age…