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The Power of Two

Best Friends Forever

Published January 29, 2014 4:40 PM by Eleanor Wolfram

Who would have thought that the microbes in our gut are really our "best friends forever" (BFF)? Your stomach contains zillions of stomach microbes that consider themselves your "besties" for life.

Research shows that microbes are established in the abdomen early in life, presumably due to contact from close family members, most strains are unwavering in their presence, staying in the belly for decades or longer. What's more is that the microbes stay inside the gut for years over a person's lifespan, thereby contributing to the uniqueness of an individual' health.

And according to valuable research conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon's at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, many strains stay with us for decades throughout our lifespan and are useful for tracking our health status. In addition, the study shows that conditions such as obesity or autoimmune disorders are associated with dramatic changes in the abdomen microbes. 

Dr. Gordon's team has found that people share abdomen microbe strains with family members, but not unrelated people. This suggests that relatives, through touching each other or sharing the same environments, are colonized by the same microbes during their early years.

Other similar research conducted by Jacques Ravel, a University of Maryland microbiologist, shows that when microbial gut communities are steady, it is possible to monitor a person's health by analyzing stool samples each year.

Diagnostic science is new in this area and current techniques render a high error rate making it unclear if a variation in sequence is due to the presence of a new strain or a mistake in the sequencing.

In the future studies will shed more light in better understanding how gut microbes remain present in individuals throughout decades especially since the stomach cavity is continually being washed by fluid.  

posted by Eleanor Wolfram


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