JUN 06, 2022 11:15 AM PDT

Researchers Confirm the Impact of Gut Viruses on Inflammatory Bowel Disease

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

The gut microbiome refers to the collection of microorganisms that reside within the gut. The gut microbiome is known to have complex interactions on human health and there has been extensive research surrounding how bacteria that are part of the gut microbiome impact metabolic, gastrointestinal, and even mental disorders.

Viruses are an often-overlooked component of the gut microbiome. Since viruses have historically been more difficult to research than bacteria, researchers often focus on gut bacteria. Researchers now know that viruses in the gut outnumber bacterial cells by as much as ten to one. Research in this area is rapidly expanding and there is even a name for the RNA and DNA viruses that are specific to the microbiome: the enteric virome.

In a recent study, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital compared the enteric virome of those diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and those with no reported gastroenterological symptoms. IBD is a broad term that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two diseases marked by inflammation in areas of the digestive tract.

The researchers took viruses from the guts of healthy patients and from the guts of patients with IBD. They then took mice and replaced their existing intestinal viruses with viruses from either group. In mice whose intestinal viruses were replaced with those from the IBD patients, higher levels of gut inflammation were seen. In mice that received viruses from the healthy group, there was no observable increase in gut inflammation.  

The researchers noted that treatments that harness the virome might be developed in the future. One possible treatment could involve transferring viruses from a healthy individual to an individual with IBD. This would be analogous to an existing treatment called a fecal transfer where gut bacteria are transferred from a healthy individual to a patient with certain gastroenterological issues. Another possible treatment could involve eliminating harmful gut viruses through vaccines or antiviral medications.

Sources: Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, Science Immunology, Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology

About the Author
Biology
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
You May Also Like
AUG 07, 2022
Microbiology
Paralytic Polio Case ID'ed in New York & Health Officials are Concerned
AUG 07, 2022
Paralytic Polio Case ID'ed in New York & Health Officials are Concerned
Polio is a disease caused by the poliovirus. Polio can cause flu-like symptoms like nausea, headache, fever, and sore th ...
AUG 11, 2022
Cancer
Exposure to "Forever Chemical" Linked to Liver Cancer
AUG 11, 2022
Exposure to "Forever Chemical" Linked to Liver Cancer
In 1938, Dr. Roy Plunkett made an accidental discovery!  He observed tetrafluoroethylene spontaneously polymerize i ...
AUG 23, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
By Targeting the Cause of the Disease, a Potential Long-Term Treatment for Asthma is Found
AUG 23, 2022
By Targeting the Cause of the Disease, a Potential Long-Term Treatment for Asthma is Found
Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs, causing symptoms of wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breat ...
AUG 21, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Eczema Drug Helps Increase Covid-19 Survival Rates, Clinical Study Suggests
AUG 21, 2022
Eczema Drug Helps Increase Covid-19 Survival Rates, Clinical Study Suggests
In a recent study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, a clinical study led by the University of Virginia (UVA) ...
SEP 09, 2022
Immunology
Antibodies are Sometimes Made with 'Stolen' DNA
SEP 09, 2022
Antibodies are Sometimes Made with 'Stolen' DNA
The human immune system must respond to a diverse array of infectious agents and harmful invaders throughout our lifetim ...
SEP 13, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Stress During Pregnancy Linked to Negative Emotions in Infants
SEP 13, 2022
Stress During Pregnancy Linked to Negative Emotions in Infants
Stress during pregnancy can have long lasting effects and can impact emotional and physical development in children. Pas ...
Loading Comments...