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Could Viruses Attacking The Microbiome Be Responsible For Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

New research published in Nature Microbiology suggests that viruses called phages, which infect gut bacteria may be important in controlling the disease.

New research done in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has suggested that viruses called phages, which have the ability to infect and kill gut bacteria, may be involved in the disease.

The possible role of the microbiome in inflammatory diseases has been a busy area of research recently, with a study in May showing that gut bacteria may play a role in multiple sclerosis. The relationship between bacteria in the gut microbiome and IBD is an active area of research, but new research published in Nature Microbiology yesterday suggests that viruses called phages, which infect gut bacteria may be important in controlling the disease.

“Phage numbers are elevated at the intestinal mucosal surface and increase in abundance during inflammatory bowel disease, suggesting that phages play an unidentified role in IBD,” said  Breck Duerkop, lead author of the paper from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Duerkop and colleagues used a mouse model of colitis and then did DNA sequencing to identify phages found in the gut as well as measuring how they changed when inflammation occurred. They then compared this information to that found in publicly available databases showing that the same phages were found in people with IBD.

“What we see in mice is consistent with what we see in humans with IBD. If we can better understand how these viruses shape bacterial communities, we might be able to determine how these contribute to the disease,” said Duerkop.

Read the full article at


Posted on: August 6 2018

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