As autoimmune disorders become an increasing problem throughout the world, particularly in developed countries, there has been an increasing amount of research dedicated to finding a cure, and the role of bacteria in the gut is of special interest.
Researchers even think that there may be as many bacteria in the gut as there are cells in the body, so these microorganisms play a vital role in the normal functioning in our bodies. Further, they believe that gut bacteria are different in more developed countries, possibly due to environmental factors or the current Western diet, but this difference would explain the discrepancy in the rise of autoimmune diseases between the East and the West.
Now, there may be evidence that supports this hypothesis.
Breaking new research courtesy of the Mayo Clinic discovered a gut microbe with the potential to treat autoimmune diseases, specifically, multiple sclerosis (MS).
Multiple sclerosis, or MS for short, is a rare autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath covering its nerves.
Without this myelin sheath, the brain cannot communicate effectively with the rest of the body, causing all sorts of serious complications. There is currently no cure for MS. To learn more about this rare disease, click here.
However, keeping in mind the role of gut bacteria, scientists wondered if introducing a bacteria strain, or a probiotic, would have the potential to alter the microbiome in the body and ameliorate MS symptoms. They decided to find out.
A few kinds of microbe were investigated in mice models using cultured bacteria from the human intestine. One of these bacteria, called Prevotella histicola, was actually found to suppress MS in the mice by producing a decrease in two types of cells that can encourage inflammation and contributing to a demyelination reduction.
Senior author of the study, Dr. Joseph Murray, claims that this discovery of using “bugs as drugs” signals a huge leap forward in the healthcare community. It would be a way to help treat a complex condition (MS) in a relatively simple and cost-effective way. But this research applies much further than just to the MS realm because other autoimmune diseases work in much the same way.
There is definitely a high potential for groundbreaking advances, but more work does need to be done to further explore this front. Even so, gut bacteria are definitely in the spotlight, and rightfully so.
To read the full story about this cool new research, click here!
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To learn more about living well with MS, check out one of our Contributors Well and Strong with MS here.