Drugs for Your Bugs?

In recent years, a great deal of research has come out indicating that the bacteria inside of our guts have an enormous influence on our health. In fact, this influence extends beyond the digestive system and includes other health systems--the health of the microbial ecosystem in your stomach could influence your cardiovascular health, your weight, and even your mental and emotional well-being. As the link between gut bacteria and overall health is strengthened, scientists have begun studying the causes behind our bacterial makeup--why is it that some people have healthy microbiomes, and other people don’t?

The answers to that question have been many. Our diet plays a big role, but so do our physical activity levels and our genes. Moreover, the drugs we take can also have an effect on our microbiome--usually in the form of antibiotics, which kill millions of good bacteria and have an overall negative effect on our gut health. This fact, however, begs an interesting question: what if we could design drugs to improve the health of the human microbiome.

Until now, most efforts to improve the microbiome have been natural and slow moving. “Eat healthier, and consume probiotics,” says conventional wisdom. Recently, however, this approach has begun to change. In 2010, for example, Matthew Redinbo (a biochemist at the University of North Carolina,) began researching drugs to treat the microbiomes of chemotherapy patients. His hope was that, by using such an approach, he could combat the side effects of a necessary treatment. The idea took off, and Redinbo continues researching direct treatment of the microbiome to this day.

In the near future, we may be able to treat a variety of health problems by regulating the microbial imbalances that cause them in the first place. This is exciting news--and here at CosmosID we are proud partner with leaders in this field. Visit our website to learn more about the work we do.