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Study says non-antibiotic drugs affect gut bacteria

PBR Staff Writer Published 20 March 2018

Researchers from European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have revealed that one in four drugs with human targets could affect the growth of bacteria in the human gut.

In a Nature Microbiology paper, the researchers reported that more than a quarter of the non-antibiotics restrict the growth of at least one species in the microbiome, which was confirmed after screening more than

The work was carried out by the EMBL research group, including Peer Bork, Kiran Patil, Nassos Typas and Georg Zeller.

The human gut includes multiple species of bacteria, which are collectively called as the gut microbiome.

The drugs from all therapeutic classes, in addition to anti-infectives have inhibited the growth of different gut microbes.

According to EMBL, the study also highlights the earlier unnoticed risk that consumption of non-antibiotic drugs may promote antibiotic resistance, as the general resistance mechanisms of microbes to human-targeted drugs and to antibiotics seem to largely overlap.

Humans carry different bacterial species, in addition to some common species. Different individuals of the same species are called strains, which carries out different functionalities, including the response to drugs.

Kiran Patil said: “This is just the beginning. We don’t know yet how most of these drugs target microbes, how these effects manifest in the human host, and what the clinical outcomes are. We need to carefully study these relationships, as this knowledge could dramatically improve our understanding and the efficacy of existing drugs.”

Zeller said: “We are excited to move on and explore drug-microbe interactions in complex gut microbial communities, as this will help us understand how individuals sometimes respond differently to the same medication.”

EMBL scientists also reported that gut bacteria can be developed on 19 different growth media with well-defined recipes.

The research team selected 96 strains from 72 bacterial species, which include frequently occurring and most abundant species in the human gut, as well as crucial species linked to infectious or other types of gut diseases such as colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The researchers discovered unknown metabolic features of some bacteria while characterising their nutritional preferences and ability to produce various molecules.