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Best News in Family Medicine February 12, 2019 (10 of 22)



According to numerous recent studies, human intestinal bacterial populations are capable of influencing various aspects of our physical and mental health. Despite this, many scientists remain "uncharted". A new study now revealed about 2,000 previously unknown intestinal bacteria.

Recent studies covered Medical News Today have shown that intestinal microbiota may play a role in Parkinson's disease and dementia and can explain why type 2 diabetes treatment works well for some but not for others. New research appeared yesterday in the magazine Nature– Nearly 2,000 new bacterial species of intestines, which scientists never produced in the laboratory, have now been identified.

The team of investigators from the European Institute of Bioinformatics (EMBL-EBI) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, used a computational analysis to assess intestinal microbiologist specimens from participants around the world. "The computational methods allow us to understand the bacteria that we can not cultivate in the lab," explains Rob Finn of EMBL-EMI.

"Using metagenomics [the analysis of genetic material] to reconstruct bacterial genomes is a bit like rebuilding hundreds of puzzles after mixing all the pieces together without knowing what the final picture should look like and removing a few pieces from the mix just to make it a bit tougher, "he continues.

Finn, however, continues: "Researchers are now at a stage where they can use a number of computational tools that complement and sometimes lead lab work to reveal new views of the human intestine."

New approach

The team was able to reconstruct 92,143 genomes from samples from 11,850 different intestinal microfilms. This allowed researchers to identify 1,952 kinds of intestinal bacteria that they and others did not know until this time. Finn and colleagues explain that many types of bacteria "retained a low profile" because scientists found it only in very low numbers in the intestine or could not survive outside the intestinal environment.

This, they note, has so far prevented scientists from adding such species to their list of intestinal bacteria they know about. This reason is also why the team who led the current study decided to take a new path – and use a combination of computational methods to try to come up with a more comprehensive "map" of human microbiology.

"The computational methods allow us to get an idea of ​​the many bacterial species that live in the human gut, how they evolved and what role they can play in their microbial community," says co-author Alexandre Almeida.

To create a "fixed plan"

"In this study," explains Almeida, "we use the most extensive public databases of gastrointestinal bacteria to identify bacterial species that we have not seen before. The methods of analysis we use are highly reproducible and can be applied to larger and more diverse data sets of the future. another discovery. "

In the future, scientists hope that these and similar studies will further help their understanding of the human intestine, which in turn will contribute to the development of healing procedures for different conditions.

"Research such as this helps us to create a so-called human intestinal plan that will help us better understand human health and illness in the future and even lead to the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases."

-Studio co-author Trevor Lawley of the Wellcome Sanger Institute

At the same time, the team notes that this study has made scientists more aware of large gaps in research around the intestinal bacteria. Scientists are currently relatively aware of bacterial species that are characteristic of populations other than those inhabiting Europe and North America, the investigators emphasize.

"We see that many of the same bacterial species are found in data from European and North American populations." However, several data sets from South America and Africa that we obtained for this study revealed a significant diversity that is not present in the former population, Finn notes.

"This suggests that collecting data from under-represented populations is essential if we are to achieve a truly comprehensive picture of the composition of the human intestine," he says, and calls on researchers to focus on more diverse cohorts.

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