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Longevity Briefs: Gut Bacteria – The Secret Hoarders Of Our Medication

Posted on 17 September 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: When we consume anything, be that food, liquid or medicine, we take the granted that what we have just consumed will end in some way or another being absorbed from our stomach into our bodies. However, new research has started to unveil the complex role that our gut microbiome has with the uptake of the substances that we eat and drink.

The gut microbiome. Source: Nutraingredients

What did the researchers do: In a new study published in Nature, scientists investigated how bacteria in the gut affect the uptake of drugs into the body. The team observed over 20 different species of gut bacteria which they exposed to 15 different kinds of drugs.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The results showed that the drugs tend to accumulate within the gut bacteria, preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

It was surprising that the majority of the new interactions we saw between bacteria and drugs were the drugs accumulating in the bacteria. Until now, biotransformation was thought to be the main way that bacteria affect the availability of drugs to the body

Kiran Patil, director of research at the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Cambridge. Source: ScienceAlert

This highlights that bioaccumulation by gut bacteria may be a common mechanism that determines drug bioavailability and metabolism, which has a wide range of implications on the effectiveness and side effects of the drug.

The next steps for us will be to to take forward this basic molecular research and investigate how an individual’s gut bacteria tie with the differing individual responses to drugs such as antidepressants – differences in whether you respond, the drug dose needed, and side effects like weight gain.

Kiran Patil. Source: ScienceAlert

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