Gut bacteria could affect the way meds work

The microbes in your gut could change how drugs work in your body.


NSFW    NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT — Science may have found the reason why meds don't always work the same way with different people, and turns out it's all in the gut.

According to a study published in Nature, Yale researchers identified human gut microbes that can process more than 150 therapeutic drugs.

The team tested the ability of 76 kinds of bacteria to alter the structure of 271 oral drugs that range from hormones to antiviral meds. To do this, the bacteria were incubated in test tubes with nutrient and drug solutions for 12 hours.

176 of the 271 drugs ended up being modified by at least one bacterial strain, and each strain was found to have modified 11 to 95 different drugs.

After then pinpointing the genes responsible for these drug-metabolizing abilities, researchers found wide variations in the number of these genes in healthy people.

This could explain why some guts metabolize drugs quickly, while others process the same meds more slowly, or not at all.

Study co-author Maria Zimmermann-Kogadeeva said it's possible to use the genetic makeup of an individual's gut flora to predict how he or she will respond to medication."

The researchers hope their study is a useful first step in understanding how microbiomes contribute to drug response, and perhaps shed light on its role in processing non-drug compounds like dietary nutrients or environmental agents.
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