Friday, 28 September 2012

Gut bacteria and type II diabetes

The human microbiome (the collection of different bacteria that live on us and in us) has been increasingly in the news of late. For instance, while waiting for a plane at Copenhagen airport a few weeks back, I was interested to see the human microbiome had made the cover of the Economist magazine (that gave me something to read on the plane trip to Prague).

The development of next generation DNA sequencing methodologies has started to give us the tools for investigating the 1000's of differen bacterial species that live with us, and what role they may play in human health. There's increasing evidence that the microbial populations in your gut have an influence on human obesity, and the development of autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease. Perhaps one of the more exciting developments is the finding that faecal transplants (yes that is exactly what it sounds like) can save people from life-threatening Clostridium difficile infections.

There's a new paper just out in Nature, that has shown an intriguing association between the makeup of the gut microbiome and the occurrence of type II diabetes. I'm not associated with the study, but I was interviewed this week by the popular science magazine Cosmos about this study. You can find the article here. There's no evidence of any causal link between your gut microbial community and the occurrence of type II diabetes, but the microbial populations may provide a useful tool for classifying type II diabetes.

The furry microbiome

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