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Exploring the impact of gut bacteria on gut health

Findings from this research should help to improve the targeting of measures aimed at preventing gastrointestinal diseases.

The human gastrointestinal tract is colonized by large numbers of bacteria, most of which are harmless and have a beneficial effect on normal body functions. Certain bacteria, however, can become dangerous and cause disease – but not in everybody. A new Emmy-Noether Independent Junior Research Group – led by Dr. Michael Sigal of Charité’s Medical Department, Division of Hepatology and Gastroenterology on Campus Charité Mitte – will set out to gain a better understanding of the underlying processes.

In a recent study, conducted in conjunction with an international group of researchers, Dr. Sigal was able to demonstrate that gastric stem cells are capable of protecting themselves against damage by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, a major risk factor for gastric cancer. Outlining the project’s main areas of focus, Dr Sigal says: “We will now explore these mechanisms in greater detail, looking at both the stomach and the large intestine. We will be shining a light on interactions between stem cells and specific bacteria which colonize the gastrointestinal tract and have the potential to cause disease. For instance, we will be studying bacteria that reside in the large bowel, and which have been linked to both chronic inflammatory bowel disease and malignant cancers.”

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Posted on: September 3 2019

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