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Gut Bacteria as Living Therapeuticals

BY: Rajni Singh | Category: Biotech-Research | Submitted: 2017-02-07 20:49:37
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Article Summary: "Certain genetic disorders like phenylketonuria and urea cycle disorder, sufficiently hamper the patient's normal life style, inspite of rigorous medication is still incurable. Serious cases leads to liver transplant and even in death. With the advancement of medical microbiology, the importance of gut microbes is being realised..."

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Gut Bacteria as Living Therapeuticals
Authors: Rajni Singh and Neha Sharma

Gut microbiota is the microbe population living in the intestine. Human gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of known bacteria having more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes). One third of the gut microbiota is common to most people, while two thirds are specific for each one. Due to its immense impact on human health, for example in host metabolism, physiology, nutrition and even immunity, this community is often regarded as our hidden metabolic ‘organ’. It is becoming evident that the microbiota co-evolves with us. Such changes may be beneficial or harmful for human health. It is suggested that disruption of the gut microbiota (or dysbiosis) can result significantly with respect to pathological intestinal conditions such as obesity and malnutrition systematic diseases such as diabetes and chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, encompassing ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. Synthetic biotics are being manufactured, which would sense and correct metabolic abnormalities like phenylketonuria and urea cycle disease that are some major diseases and rare genetic disorders.


While each of us has a unique microbiota, it always fulfils the same physiological functions, with direct impact on our health

Some of the functions are:

  • These organisms help in digestion of certain food which cannot be digested normally.
  • They help in production of some vitamins that is vitamin B & K.
  • They protect the intestinal mucosa by preventing the growth of undesirable microorganisms.
  • Plays an important role in the immune system.
  • Proper digestive functioning of the human body depends upon the presence of these gut microbiota.
  • It plays normal function of our body and different functions it complete successfully.
Taking into account the major role gut microbiota plays in the normal functioning of the body and the different functions it accomplishes, nowadays specialist consider it as an “organ".

Major microbes present in gut:

Bacteroides, Clostridium, Faecalibacterium, Eubacterium, Ruminococcus, Peptococcus, Peptostreptococcus, Bifidobacterium .

Surprisingly, Escherichia and Lactobacillus are present in lesser amount in microbiota.

Two main diseases which do not have any remedy at present:

  1. Urea cycle disorders :
Urea cycle disorder is a genetic disorder which results in the nitrogen accumulates in the form of ammonia, highly toxic substance for the human body, which results in hyperammonemia (elevated blood ammonia). This condition can cause irreversible brain damage followed by coma and finally death.

Currently no sure shot remedy has been designed for completely curing the conditions but the symptoms can be managed efficiently by Low protein, high-calorie diet, Medications, Amino acid supplements, Liver transplantation

  1. Phenylketonuria
Phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic condition causing phenylalanine (an amino acid) to build up in the body. An enzyme called phenylalanine hydroxylase converts phenylalanine to tyrosine, which is a nonessential amino acid. Tyrosine is needed to create neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

PKU is treated by taking a special diet which limits foods containing phenylalanine. Avoid high protein diet like eggs, cheese, nuts, milk, beans, chicken, fish, pork, beef. Other treatment is Medication.

Gut microbes can be therapeutic future of treatment in Phenylketonuria and urea cycle disease to provide greater precision, safety, and efficacy for disease treatment, compared with traditional methods.

Gut microbes can be considered ‘biological thermostats’ which are manipulated to detect and regulate the amount of an enzyme or metabolic by product in a patient’s body. Gut microbes has potential to treat many other rare genetic metabolic disorders. There are possibilities of using these microbes to produce biologics or other small molecules to treat a range of conditions, including cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune, oncology, and central nervous system disorders, which have been linked to metabolic dysregulation.

Gut microbes can be used in the form of capsules, liquid suspensions, or other dosage forms that can be taken regularly, exploiting the microbiota with new metabolic capabilities or complement lost functionality in organs such as the liver.

Mechanism of action:

Ammonia levels in the bloodstream, are dependent on ammonia production in the large intestine. Microbes programmed to act as drugs can convert intestinal ammonia into an amino acid, which is flushed out of the body through the stool, thereby dramatically reducing the flow of ammonia to the blood and clearing body of the toxins. Gut bacteria can be taken in supplement to support digestive and immune health by altering the balance of intestinal microbiota.


With the traditional medicines having severe side effects having to follow tough life style and still then no proper cure microbes as therapeutics can prove to be relatively harmless, more efficient to human health. This field should be explored more, since microbes are promised to hold the key to treat various disorders.

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About Author / Additional Info:
I am working as Additional Director and Head in Amity Institute of Microbial Biotechnology, Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida, India. I have 17 patents, executed 6 different projects and authored, co-authored or presented over 49 scientific papers, articles, book and chapters and received different grants from Govt. organization to present paper at different international platforms.

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