Accurate Targeting of Gut Microbiota Could Help Curtail Diseases

Published Date : May 03, 2018

It is well-known that the human digestive system is filled with fungi, bacteria, and a variety of other microbes that help in processing food. A number of studies have suggested this microbiota plays a big role in keeping the person healthy and in the occurrence of diseases affecting various parts of the body, such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, a number of allergies, and multiple sclerosis. In a recent study, which has been published in the journal ACS Chemical Biology, scientists have reported that a way of using chemical compounds for targeting and inhibiting the growth of specific gut microbiota, which are associated with certain diseases, without hurting other beneficial microbes has been potentially found.

While antibiotics can help in regulating gut bacteria, the rising resistance of several bacteria to most antibiotics available presently makes the situation worrisome. Moreover, antibiotics can harm some of the microbes that are necessary for a healthy body and the microbes that may take the place of these essential microbes can sometimes be more harmful than be of any good. To find an effective solution to the issue, a group of researchers is using a chemical compound as a way of targeting and disrupting the metabolism process of a group of bacteria in the gut that has often been associated with the onset of diabetes type I in genetically vulnerable people.

In lab studies, the researchers found out that when a small dose of a diabetes drug acarbase was used, it resulted in significant disruption of the protein processing activity in the Starch Utilization System of the bacteria under study. By inhibiting the Starch Utilization system in the bacteria, the bacteria under study were not able to metabolize a kind of complex carbohydrate pair that is not digested by the human digestive system but are critical to the survival of the bacteria. Owing to this, the bacteria cannot thrive. It was found in the study that acarbose showed specific action only against the bacteria under study but almost no effect was seen on other bacteria. Further study may help the researchers to develop drug classes that can target gut microbiota with a high level of accuracy to help in preventing a disease.