Microbiome study suggests “it takes a village” of bacteria to protect against infections

Microbiomes suggest “it takes a village” to protect against infections
Microbiomes suggest “it takes a village” to protect against infections | Courtesy of biology.usf.edu
Like the saying “it takes a village,” the variety and mixture of bacteria that thrives inside the human gut may unite to protect humans against dangerous infections, a University of Michigan (UM) Medical School study published Thursday in mBios indicates.

Researchers from the school also reported that some people’s bacteria may be more efficient than others because of crucial differences in the variety of bacteria.

The study suggest that it may be feasible to determine which gut bacteria collections are better able to resist invading infections. This is an important discovery because it could help researchers develop new methods of preventing infections by helping gut bacteria protect the body.

The research team was led by UM Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Patrick Schloss.
"We know that individual humans all have different collections of gut bacteria, that your internal 'village' is different from mine. But research has mostly focused on studying one collection at a time," Schloss said. "By looking at many types of microbiomes at once, we were able to tease out a subset of bacterial communities that appear to resist C-diff colonization and predict to what extent they could prevent an infection. 

"It's an amazingly effective treatment, but if we could develop therapeutic probiotics instead, those would carry less risk," Schloss said. "But first we have to know how the resistant communities are working."

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