The ‘microbiome’, the population of bacteria that lives in the gut, has long been implicated in the development of type 1 diabetes. New research, published in the journal Science, found that the bacteria in the gut of male mice seemed to offer them some protection from developing type 1. JDRF-funded researchers in Canada have published new observations on the link between the microbiome and type 1 in mice. Male mice with normal gut bacteria were less likely to develop type 1 than mice that were brought up in completely germ-free conditions and had no bacteria in their gut. As reported by Diabetes Health, the microbiome is of increasing interest to scientists working on disorders of the immune system, from allergies and asthma to autoimmune conditions like type 1. This is because we are beginning to understand that the development of the bacterial population in our gut in our early life may be closely linked to the way in which the immune system develops too.
While this was initially thought to relate simply to the body’s need to differentiate between the helpful bacteria that aid in digestion and the harmful bugs that can make us ill, it now seems as if there may be wider implications for the way the whole immune system develops.
Janet Markle, one of the researchers in the study commented, “The gut microbiome is thought to play a role in the development of several autoimmune diseases, and we are now beginning to understand how the microbiome alters immune responses.”
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