A study has shown how microbiomes are influenced by viruses. A rise in public curiosity has allowed increased funding for gut bacteria interaction studies. Microbiomes affect a variety of conditions like depression, Parkinson’s, obesity and diabetes. However, their benefits are not yet known apart from a few cases. While microbes are important, moderating them lies in the future. Microbiomes are not one entity. It’s a complex world filled with microscopic beings.
Scientists are now probing bacteriophages, which are viruses with bacteria-killing abilities. They outnumber bacteria and are highly specific. They were used before antibiotics were produced on a mass and cheaper scale. However, as antibiotic resistance rates increase, phages may be employed once again. Researchers from BWH and Wyss Institute are researching how they impact gut bacteria with findings published in CH&M journal.
Dr. Gerber stated that his interests lay in understanding gut microbiome dynamics of which bacteriophages are vital components of. Although abundant, their purpose is not known. They exist with the system, naturally in the stomach. Gnotobiotic mice with no bacteria in or on them were reared. 10 bacteria species’ and corresponding phages were added as well. Microbe success rates were tracked.
They expected a drop in only bacteria levels whose phages had been introduced. However, other bacteria were affected as well. Compounds manufactured by the mouse and bacteria called metabolomes were assessed. It was discovered that biological chemical levels underwent changes as well.
Phages had metabolite modulation abilities which could affect mammalian hosts. This meant that viruses could alter quantity or type of biomolecules of host animals. Dr. Gerber also stated that may activities could be done. He wanted to know if phages could be used for activity modulation if neurotransmitter levels could be changed too.
Since it was done in rodents, extrapolating it to humans could be difficult, he said. The authors stated that gnotobioticmice allowed for modeling phage behavior in its gut environment. The principle would still stand. Medical interventions are, however, still long into the future. However, they said that it was still interesting as other microbiome altering therapy effects could be understood this way.
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