The Top 10 Microbiome Breakthroughs of 2016
The burgeoning field of Microbiome research is growing at a rapid rate and in 2016 some amazing new discoveries were made.
Microbiome Dysbiosis is being observed in more and more conditions and we are now beginning to unravel the role Dysbiosis plays in causing disease.
Here are the Top 10 microbiome discoveries from 2016.
10. Neonatal Gut Bacteria Might Promote Asthma
We have known for some time that dysbiosis of the gut microbiome is associated with the development of allergies and asthma. Now scientists at the University of California San Francisco have identified a specific pattern in the gut microbiome of babies that can predict if they will be more likely to develop asthma or allergies later in life. Read the study here.
9. Your soap and toothpaste could be messing with your microbiome
The chemical Triclosan is a common antimicrobial used in household products including antibacterial soap. According to a paper published in the journal Science, such chemicals could be wreaking havoc on your microbiome and health. Fortunately the FDA recently banned the use of Triclosan in household products, as no one has been able to prove it’s safe. Read the study here.
8. Your microbiome has it’s own microbiome, and it helps keep you healthy
In a study published in the journal PNAS researchers surveyed the bacteriophages found in the gut microbiome of healthy people. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect the bacteria in your gut. The team found a core group of bacteriophage present in healthy individuals, and that this core group was found much less frequently in the microbiomes of people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Thus, this core set of bacteriophage plays an important role in maintaining gut microbiome structure/function and thereby contributes significantly to human health. Read it here.
7. Gut microbes mediate the effects of the diabetes drug Metformin
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a global problem, caused by a complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors, such as diet and sedentary lifestyle. It is apparent that the gut microbiome is a key player in the development of the disease. Metformin is a widely used treatment for T2D, however one-third of patients taking the drug report adverse side effects such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Now, in a study published in the journal Nature, researchers show that the gut microbiome mediates the therapeutic effects of metformin through the production of short chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Read more here.
6. Childhood use of erythromycin-like antibiotics (macrolides) predisposes children to obesity and asthma
Rearchers found that antibiotic use in childhood is associated with significant changes in the intestinal microbiome composition, which persist for over 6 months. The group observed differences in the microbiome composition of antibiotic-treated children when compared with those who were not exposed to antibiotics for more than 2 years. They found that macrolide use in early life is associated with increased risk of asthma and predisposes to antibiotic-associated weight gain. Overweight and asthmatic children have distinct microbiota compositions. Penicillins leave a weaker mark on the microbiota than macrolide antibiotics like erythromycin. Read the study here.
5. Bacterial proteins may influence Alzheimer's disease pathology
Scientists have known for some time that infections can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Now for the first time researchers at University of California Davis have shown that proteins from gram-negative bacteria are associated with beta amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s. These are the first bacterial molecules that are consistently found in all brains. Finding a proven link between bacterial infections and Alzheimer's could offer new opportunities to prevent and treat the disease. Read the study here.
4. Disrupting the daily routine of the gut microbiome can be bad news for the whole body
In a study published in the journal Cell a group of scientists from the Weizmann Institute in Israel used some remarkable DNA technologies to show that the gut microbiota of mice changes location within the gut, and changes its metabolic outputs (postbiotics) over the span of a 24-hour day.
Evan more interestingly, the researchers found that the liver changes how it responds to an overdose of acetaminophen over the span of the day in response to signals from the gut microbiota. An overdose of acetaminophen was less toxic at dawn and most toxic at dusk. This means that the time of day that a medication is administered could have a big impact on its effectiveness, and on the severity of its side effects. Read the study here.
3. How lack of fiber hurts your gut microbiome
This study published in the journal Cell gives a fantastic insight into why fiber is good for you and your gut microbiome. Scientists at the university of Michigan found that when microbes inside the digestive tract of mice don't get the regular fiber that they rely on for food, they begin to munch away the natural layer of mucus that lines (and protects) the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall. While this evidence comes from work in mice, the results mirror everything that doctors and nutritionists have been telling us for years - Eat more fiber!. Read the study here.
2. Gut microbes are the reason you regain weight after dieting
A team from the Weizmann Institute of Science has shown in mice that the gut microbiome plays an unexpectedly important role in yo-yo obesity, and that this may be prevented or treated by altering the composition or function of the microbiome. Most interestingly, the team discovered that supplementing the drinking water of the mice with flavonoids stopped the post-diet mice from regaining the weight. If this research holds true in humans (which is pretty likely), it could be a huge step forward in treating the obesity epidemic. Read the study here.
1. Gut microbes play a causal role in neurodegenerative disease
Finally in first place, probably one of the most significant microbiome discoveries this year. A team from Caltech demonstrate that gut microbiota promote neuroinflammation and motor deficits in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s Disease affects 1 million people in the US and up to 10 million worldwide, making it the second most common neurodegenerative disease. Many patients with Parkinson’s disease experience digestive symptoms like constipation years before they develop neurological symptoms, and scientists have found dysbiosis in the gut microbiomes of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
The study is not simply correlative, but shows that the gut microbiome appears to play a causal role in neurodegenerative disease. Furthermore, targeting drugs to the gut is much simpler than targeting them to the brain. Read the study here.
Do you agree/disagree? Did we miss any important discoveries this year?
Comment below and let us know.