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All posts for the month December, 2015

It had to happen sooner or later- I’ve come across the buzzword “psychobiotic” (meaning a probiotic, or live bacterium, which when ingested can help treat symptoms of mental disorders) online, and now in a publication (Psychobiotics and the gut-brain axis: in the pursuit of happiness, by Zhou and Foster, a review in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment).  In the abstract, the authors state that a combination of probiotics, antibiotics, and fecal microbiome transplants (the latter is a drastic step to take indeed!) might be used to treat mental illness.

I think it’s a little early to be jumping on this particular bandwagon. While it’s clear that there are links between brain and central nervous system function and the composition of microbiota in the gut, it is likely that host genetics plays a part, and until we know which specific gut bacteria to remove or enrich for, and have therapies designed for these purposes, really it’s just shooting randomly in the dark. We still don’t know enough. The pace of research in microbiome studies is rapid, though- and I anticipate having real, designed therapies (clinically proven ones- do not forget this criterion, it is important!) in the next decade, if not sooner.

Another good paper to look at, if you are interested in the gut-brain axis, is this one, by Foster and Neufeld, published in Cell: Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Most of the work they write about has been conducted in mice. I myself can’t find a single study on bipolar disorder and the human gut microbiome- if anyone wants to use me as a subject in such a study I’d be happy to volunteer! I notice links between what I eat and how I feel, both physically and psychologically. While it is possible that the food directly links these phenomena, it is also possible that food influences gut bacterial composition and activity, and then the changed microbiome has effects on my physiology and brain.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate, and if you do not, I hope you have a nice day.

Hello, readers! I’ve been ill for some time and focusing on other projects, so unfortunately I’ve been neglecting this blog. I haven’t stopped my work on Project: Cancer-Fighting Gut Bacteria, and an NIH grant is in the works for that project with some collaborators of mine. If I had adjunct professor status at a university, that would make writing such a grant a lot easier, but alas, my funding situation is too precarious for me to get status at my home university, the University of Guelph, and unless funding comes through for my UCLA collaborator, there won’t be a chance for me to get this status at UCLA, either.

My UCLA collaborator, Dr. Robert Schiestl, has shared with me some of his ambitious plans for studying the Lactobacillus johnsonii gut bacterium that he’s already demonstrated has the ability to suppress lymphoma development in mice. I can’t tell you what the plans are, except to say he’d like to examine the possibility of this bacterium helping with a wide variety of diseases and syndromes linked to inflammation (and there are quite a number of these!). I am helping him seek funding for his project, partly because I want to see the trials go ahead, and partly because it would allow Dr. Schiestl to hire me and, if I am hired for long enough, I can get adjunct status at UCLA and take a lead role in the grant I’m trying to coordinate for Project: Cancer-Fighting Gut Bacteria.

Wish us luck! I wish I could tell you what is planned, as it is very exciting indeed, but I have promised not to.

I hope over the Christmas break, in between working on some other projects, to post a few more details of articles I’ve come across which I find interesting, and which you may find interesting, too.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate, and if you do not, I hope you have a nice day.