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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gut microbes may be used to cure illnesses: doctor

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer
March 20, 2017

Big-data research on gut microbes shows promising results for treating obesity, allergies, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses, a Taichung-based doctor said on Saturday at an event to inaugurate the Taiwan Microbiota Consortium.
Microbes inhabiting the digestive tract have a significant affect on digestive, metabolic and autoimmune disorders, said Wu Chun-ying (吳俊穎), doctor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Taichung Veterans General Hospital and the consortium’s president.
Microbes extracted from feces could be administered by pills or suppositories to change a patient’s gut flora to treat ailments, he said citing an international study, adding that doctors in the US has been treating pseudomembranous enteritis using this method.
Wu said the gut microbiota of laboratory mice and humans share a 90 percent similarity, adding that he successfully introduced microbes to mice that maintained their weight, despite them consuming normal portions and being prevented from exercise.
Mice undergoing the procedure had lower rates of diabetes and normal levels of blood lipids, blood sugar and liver function, he said, adding that human clinical trials were conducted in 2015.
Researchers used to focus on a single microbe species, but analyses aided by information technology have enabled mass research of thousands of microbial species at a time, Wu said.
Recent studies revealed that gut microbes play a surprisingly important role in many diseases and disorders that range from obesity, allergies, cancer, depression, Parkinson’s disease and autism, he said.
Gut microbes are being researched in the US, Japan and Western Europe, and human clinical trials have begun in many nations, Wu said, calling on the government to promote research in the field.

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