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Gut Bacteria to Protect Against Harmful Radiation Exposure, Study Finds

Feb, 2021

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A new study led by the researchers of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have reported to find that a specific type of bacteria in the gut exhibits potential to protect the body from radiation damage, which was performed in mice model. Moreover, researchers explained that exposure to radiation under any circumstances results in tissue damage, however in the study, researchers observed that gut bacteria alleviated radiation exposure and enhanced the retrieval of blood cell production, including reparation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

They further informed that only an 'elite' set of mice exhibited high amount of two types of bacteria in their guts such as Lachnospiraceae and Enterococcaceae, , which intensely counteracted the effects of the strong radiation. Moreover, in case of humans, these two types of bacteria were profusely found in leukemia patients with mild GI symptoms and underwent radiotherapy.

Moreover, researchers explained that the presence of these two bacteria augmented production of small metabolites called as tryptophan and propionate. These molecules protects from radiation, diminishes damage to bone marrow stem cell production, and reduced damage to DNA, as exposure to radiation in any form can result in serious ailment and in some cases it might result in death.  Researchers further explained that GI tract comprises over 10 trillion microbial microorganisms exhibiting potential in restraining radiation-induced damage.

Hao Guo, first author stated, “Substantial federal efforts have been made to mitigate acute radiation symptoms—however, it remains a long-standing and unresolved problem. Our work produced a comprehensive dataset of bacteria and metabolites that can serve as a powerful resource to identify actionable therapeutic targets in future microbiome studies.”

Researchers concluded that they are panning to initiate a clinical trial in the near future in humans to investigate the benefits of providing these metabolites to patients receiving radiation.

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