Since researchers were able to use genetic technologies to reveal how important the gut microbiome is to human health, they've been revealing more connections between certain health conditions and specific gut microbes. For example, the research team of Patrice Cani, at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain) learned that a family of bacteria called Subdoligranulum, which is typically found in the gut microbiomes of healthy people, was often absent from the guts of diabetic and obese people. They wanted to know more about it.
Only one strain of bacteria from Subdoligranulum has been successfully grown in the lab, which was not the same one absent from obese people. It's been estimated that about 70 percent of human gut microbes are still unknown and uncultivated. The researchers took two years to grow about 200 strains of human gut microbes but weren't able to find any more members of the family.
They did isolate another previously undiscovered microbe, however. They named this newly-discovered bacterium Dysosmobacter welbionis, and now they've characterized it. This work has been reported in Gut.
The researchers have found that this microbe generates a molecule called butyrate, which is known to reduce the risk of colon cancer, and is also produced by many other bacteria. Butyrate can boost immunity, and strengthen the intestinal barrier. Dysosmobacter welbionis is also present at lower levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to those without it.
After analyzing stool samples from 12,000 individuals around the world, the researchers determined that 70 percent of those people carried Dysosmobacter welbionis. The scientists were surprised that it hasn't been identified before this, and suggested it may be due in part to their culture techniques.
A mouse model was also exposed to Dysosmobacter welbionis. The number of mitochondria in their cells was found to increase, sugar levels were decreased, and there were downstream anti-inflammatory impacts. This microbe may have therapeutic potential for type 2 diabetes and obesity like another bacteria called Akkermansia, which the Cani lab is studying.
The researchers want to investigate whether Dysosmobacter welbionis can be combined with Akkermansia to have an even stronger beneficial impact on obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation.