I just came across this fascinating study today on how adding a particular bacterium (a species of Clostridium) back into the gut microflora of mice rescued the mice from a nut allergy.
And here is a link to the original article.
Speaking purely anecdotally, my own troubles with negative reactions to food (gluten and dairy proteins) started after a period of time where I was taking a lot of antibiotics. Of course, this may be coincidence, but it would be really interesting to me to find out if there are “healthy” bacteria that are missing from my own gut microbial community. Ideally I could go back in time and sample myself from before I took all those antibiotics! Where’s a time machine when you need one?
I don’t think anyone really knows yet what a truly “healthy” community looks like (though researchers like Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe at the University of Guelph are working on this subject), and of course research like this is just starting to point in the direction of the different roles particular gut bacteria may play in interacting with our gut and immune systems, and maybe other organs of our bodies as well.
Who knows, in twenty years the knowledge that is just coming forward now might revolutionize medicine!
PS: I realized I promised a blog post on how my cancer-related research relates to the tumour-shrinking bacterium reported recently in news outlets, but quite honestly I have been very busy- in part learning more about new research to do with bacteria that are involved in cancer. Some bacteria seem to promote cancer, others fight it- it’s so interesting to me as a microbiologist to try to think of what molecules these bacteria may be producing that result in their differential effects. More on this subject as soon as I get a chance to digest it all.