The search for good bacteria

November 1, 2002

Brussels, 31 Oct 2002

Microbe Diagnostics, an EU funded project is developing new techniques to enable scientists to quickly identify bacteria in the gut based on their DNA.

The microbial community resident in the human intestinal tract is key to influencing the health and well-being of humans. However the intestinal ecosystem is very complex with more than 400 different bacterial species in our intestines, all of which are interacting with each other and with the food we eat.

Being able to identify which bacterium is which, and what they are doing, is essential to understanding how the ecosystem works and how to manipulate it (or prevent it from being disturbed) in order to restore or maintain health.

New techniques being developed by the project include flow cytometry, enabling rapid and reliable analysis of a large number of samples. This will be used to determine what bacteria are usually present in the intestines of healthy people, and how this ecosystem changes with age, diet and lifestyle. It will also be used to determine how the ecosystem differs between healthy and sick people, and which bacteria are involved in chronic intestinal diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This knowledge will allow the development of therapeutic approaches, including beneficially modifying the intestinal ecosystem.

For further information about the project, please visit: ndex.html

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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