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New findings on gut bacteria can lead to new antibiotics

Recent discovery at the Technical University of Denmark on gut bacteria could lead to the development of new antibiotics and give better understanding of diseases and conditions.

500 previously unknown gut bacteria and more than 800 bacteriophages that have previously been unknown have been mapped by the scientists, meaning that all intestinal bacteria are now mapped. The study was recently published in Nature Biotechnology.

The gene map can be used to strengthen our understanding of a long list of disorders and in the search for new types of antibiotics.

“Gut bacteria has been one of the hottest scientific topics in the past four years. Prior to our study, only around 10 percent of these bacteria were known. We have mapped the remaining 90 percent. This could lead to major medical progress in the future,” says Associate Professor Henrik Bjørn Nielsen at the Technical University of Denmark to Science Nordic.

By using the genomes, scientists could find out which bacteria are present or missing in the gut of people with diseases such as chronic, inflammatory bowel diseases, type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, ADHD and autism or people who are severely obese. The study also points to a new way of understanding antibiotics. In the study, the scientists have also mapped bacteriophages’ genomes, discovering 800 new bacteriophages. By conducting experiments in which the researchers looked at which and how bacteriophages attack and destroy particular bacteria,  it was possible to conclude which bacteriophages finish off which bacteria. This type of antibiotics, known as phage therapy, could very well have a central role within future treatment, according to Professor Nielsen.