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Bacterial molecules may prevent inflammatory bowel disease

Common compounds produced by gut microbes quench colitis in mice

By
12:25pm, July 9, 2013

Common molecules made by bacteria in the gut may act as chill pills for the immune system. Molecules secreted by intestinal bacteria work to prevent misplaced immune attacks in inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis, a new study finds.

“It is a huge advance,” says Sarkis Mazmanian of Caltech. “This opens up the notion that a very easy and potentially very safe therapy for inflammatory bowel disease could exist.”

Decades of research have hinted that microbes play a role in immune-related diseases such as obesity, allergy, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. But scientists have had difficulty pinpointing direct links between the bacteria in the gut and the army of immune cells that live there.  

Some researchers have focused on individual microbial species among the gut’s teeming hordes to see how they affect the immune system. But Wendy Garrett’s team at Harvard University decided to lo

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