We are all crawling with bacteria, and researchers hope someday to induce some of these microbes within us to produce compounds that will fight disease. In a first step toward this goal, a team has identified a bacterial product that kicks on anti-inflammatory machinery in the intestines of mice and suppresses a condition similar to human Crohn’s disease.
The findings offer the first example of a microbe-generated compound that “networks” with the immune system to quell inflammation in a mammal, the scientists report in the May 29 Nature.
The human intestines house 300 to 1,000 distinct kinds of bacteria — some good and some bad. Many have never been clearly identified or even accurately counted. Their roles are also gradually being discerned to include more than food digestion.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.