Researchers at Vanderbilt University have discovered bacteria that can produce a therapeutic compound in the gut which provides a number of benefits, including preventing weight gain, insulin resistance and other adverse effects.
Sean Davies, Ph.D., said that although it's hard to speculate from mouse to human but essentially, they have prevented most of the negative consequences of obesity in mice, even though they're eating a high-fat diet.
He further explained that regulatory issues must be addressed before moving to human studies but the findings suggested that it might be possible to manipulate the bacterial residents of the gut, the gut microbiota, to treat obesity and other chronic diseases.
Other studies have demonstrated that the natural gut microbiota plays a role in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The researchers also observed effects of the compounds in the liver, suggesting that it might be possible to use modified bacteria to deliver therapeutics beyond the gut.
The investigators are currently working on strategies to address regulatory issues related to containing the bacteria, for example by knocking out genes required for the bacteria to live outside the treated host.
The findings will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.