The importance of gut flora

Blogging from Atlanta at ICEID, the perfect venue to highlight today's story in the NY Times by Carl Zimmer discussing gut microbes in health and disease--including an introduction focusing on fecal transplants to treat Clostridium difficile infections. If you're at ICEID, be sure to swing by several posters in both sessions today showing new work (ours and others') on zoonotic MRSA.

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In my field, many things that cause the average man-on-the-street to get a bit squeamish or squicked are rather commonplace. My own studies include two types of bacteria that are carried rectally in humans (and other animals), so I spend an absurd amount of time thinking about, well, shit, and…
Image of C. difficile from BBC News. You may recall a prior post about a dog that could smell when patients were infected with Clostridium difficile. C. difficile causes about 14,000 deaths per year in the United States. Recent breakthroughs in understanding gut microbes have led to the…
Clostridium difficile has joined MRSA, SARS, avian influenza, and West Nile as a hot new emerging disease. This bacterium, a cousin to Clostridium tetani-the causative agent of tetanus--and Clostridium botulinum--the botulism bacterium--is a spore-forming anaerobe. Carried by about 3 percent of…
On an academic level, I am not a fan of bacteria. I like viruses. Thus, I usually like the idea of using viruses to kill bacteria. But I am a huge fan of fecal bacteriotherapy, aka, poop transplants. Someone is sick, they get antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off their 'normal' bacteria, and allow 'bad…

There have been a few papers showing success, but the numbers are really tiny so far on published trials.