Try to imagine 100 million of anything. It boggles the mind. Now consider this: There are more than 100 trillion microorganisms living in your body, most of them in your gut, your mouth and your skin. Taken altogether, these microorganisms make up the microbiome. Scientists are eager to find out what these microorganisms do and how to harness their power to improve our health, something that is a challenge simply because of the sheer volume of microorganisms.
Big pharmacy companies are increasingly committed to funding this research. Pfizer recently agreed to team with Second Genome, which works in microbiome science to help develop new medicine, on a study exploring the link between the microbiome and obesity. It’s the second big pharmacy company to partner with Second Genome, which is also working with Johnson & Johnson.
Studying Metabolic Disorders
Second Genome’s study will look at 900 people with a variety of metabolic phenotypes. The goal is to help find different ways to treat metabolic disorders such as obesity. There has already been some promising research in this field using animals. One study found that the introduction of microbes appeared to spark weight loss in mice.
The potential for further research in this area holds great promise in relation to prebiotics. Prebiotics promote the formation of healthy gut bacteria that can help in treating causes related to obesity, and researchers are eager to explore the link between obesity prevention and prebiotics. The benefits of prebiotics include:
- Regular bowel movements
- Stronger bones
- Decreased risk of polyps or cancer
- Lowered triglyceride levels
- Improved appetite control
These are all important things in the fight against obesity. The hope is to find other things that can assist the microbiome in fighting off obesity, and prebiotics definitely fit into that arena.
A Hot Topic
Microbiotic research is a hot idea right now. There are also studies that are looking into:
- Treating infectious diseases with microbiomics
- Gut microbiome research and development through Enterome Bioscience, a French company
- Finding a diabetes-resistant gene and how it relates to microbiotics
There are still so many things that are not fully understood about the microbiome, and the importance of microorganisms in gut health has been underestimated. With investment in this area, there could be unexpected ways to fight obesity that we’re only just beginning to imagine.