Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Good vs. Bad Bacteria in the Gut

A team of Cornell University scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that a novel group of E. coli bacteria is associated with intestinal inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease. This research was published in the July 12 edition of The ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology.

Crohn’s disease, an incurable inflammatory disorder of the intestine, is found most frequently in the lower part of the small intestine called the "ileum," and it affects 1-in-1,000 people in Europe and North America. Thus far, gut bacteria have long been suspected in playing a pivotal role in the development of Crohn’s disease, but the specific bacterial characteristics that drive the inflammatory response have remained elusive.

Researchers at Cornell examined possible causes for the disease in patients with Crohn’s restricted to the ileum and the colon versus healthy individuals. Their findings raise the possibility that some strains of E. coli bacteria are opportunistic pathogens that may be causally related to chronic intestinal inflammation in susceptible individuals. The researchers go on to suggest that "an integrated approach that considers an individual’s mucosa-associated flora in addition to disease phenotype and genotype may improve outcome."

Other studies have been performed on E. Coli and have found that certain probiotic bacteria (the "good" gut bacteria as you might find in a quality yoghurt or probiotic supplement) can actually dampen the effect of these bad bacteria in the gut. This area of "good vs. bad bacteria in the gut" is an important area where new research may soon prove that probiotic supplementation is a must to reduce the effect of Crohn's in the population.


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