Go With Your Gut: The Microbiome is Hot

Association News, Understanding CFS | 27. May, 2011 by | 6 Comments

By K. Kimberly McCleary, President & CEO

Endeavors-cartoon3I am a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tarheels have had their share of triumphs on the basketball court, but I also appreciate the contributions that UNC makes to science. In the winter 2011 issue of one of our alumni magazines, Endeavors, is a compilation of five short articles about the role that one type of pathogen plays in human health, “The Good, The Bad, and the Unknown: Bacteria In Your Body.” Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

For centuries scientists didn’t think our relationship with bacteria was terribly important, except for those rare cases when bugs escape the gastrointestinal tract, enter the bloodstream, and cause a life-threatening infection. Then researchers started figuring out that our intestines are full of known and unknown species that compose unique bacterial ecologies. And each of us, they’re finding, has a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria.

Today we’re learning that diverse groups of bacteria play major roles in several ailments, including colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and even colon cancer. Scientists at Carolina and elsewhere are proving that probiotics — the so-called good bacteria sold at health-food stores — can help millions of people, including kids. And they’ve found that bacteria’s effect on health starts when they’re babies.

Read the full text of the article here:  Bacteria_In_Your_Body

Dr. Sanjay Shukla

The Endeavors article spotlights research being conducted at UNC, but this avenue of research is gaining momentum over the world. It’s being applied to CFS for the first time by a team at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin led by Sanjay Shukla, PhD. Dr. Shukla was funded by the Solve ME/CFS Initiative in 2009-2010 as part of our sponsored research program. His study utilizes an exercise challenge to “provoke” symptoms. His team will measure the ratio of “good” bacteria to “bad” bacteria and will try to assess whether the bad bacteria may be leaving the gut and traveling to other parts of the body, causing symptoms of post-exertional relapse that are so disabling and vexing to treat.

Due to its strict entry criteria and the challenging study protocol, this study took longer than expected to recruit subjects. But the samples have been collected and now the data is being analyzed. There is a lot of anticipation about what this team might find, especially given how “hot” the gut microbiome is right now. Here on Research1st.com, we’ll keep you updated with news about this project, others studies funded by the Association and study results from around the world as soon as they’re published.

Reprinted with permission from Endeavors and the Office of Information and Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Bacteria in the Body,” by Mark Derewicz with illustrations by Eric Knisley, winter 2011 issue of Endeavors, pages 20-25.

K. Kimberly McCleary has served as the Association’s chief staff executive since 1991

May 27, 2011