When bacteria-killing viruses take over, it’s bad news for the gut | Science News

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When bacteria-killing viruses take over, it’s bad news for the gut

People with inflammatory bowel diseases carry more of some of these viruses, less good bacteria

By
12:00pm, January 22, 2015
Virome shapes graphic

VIRUS GUT-PUNCH  Bacteria-infecting viruses called bacteriophages may kill friendly bacteria in the gut, causing inflammation and disease, a new study shows.

When it comes to inflammatory bowel disease, the enemy of my friends is my enemy, too, a new study suggests.

Bacteriophages — viruses that infect and kill bacteria — are more diverse in people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Herbert “Skip” Virgin, an immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues report the finding online January 22 in Cell. In particular, Caudovirales bacteriophages were more diverse in people with the diseases than in healthy people living in the same households, the researchers found.

The viruses may kill friendly bacteria in the intestines, leading to inflammation and disease. Scientists already knew that people with Crohn’s and colitis tend to have fewer types of beneficial bacteria in their gut microbiomes. The microbiome is the complete collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms that

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