Exploring the microbiome frontier

The last decade has produced an explosion of research into how the microbiome, the collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in and on our bodies, influences our health and well-being. Stanford scientists have learned how our diets shape the microbiome for better and for worse, how chemical byproducts of the microbiome defend against disease and what our microbes say about our overall health – the microbiome may even be an indicator for women at risk of preterm births. These discoveries and others to come are reshaping the way scientists think about health and disease, and even revealing new pathways to therapies.

Researchers probe microbiome-cancer treatment link

Immunotherapy has great promise as a cancer treatment, but current therapies only work in some. Now, Stanford researchers are testing the idea that microorganisms in our guts might be the deciding factor.

Human microbiome churns out thousands of tiny novel proteins

The bacteria in our gut make thousands of tiny, previously unidentified proteins that could shed light on human health and advance drug development, Ami Bhatt and collaborators have found.

The future of the microbiome: A conversation

Michael Fischbach talks with fellow professor of bioengineering and The Future of Everything host Russ Altman about what we do – and don’t – know about the bacteria in our bodies.

Linking bacterial populations with health

Two people may have different bacteria living on and in them, but the challenge is knowing which differences matter for health. Statistician Susan Holmes thinks she might have some answers.

Gut bust: Intestinal microbes in peril

Modern society has brought with it clean water, public sanitation and antibiotics, to name just three advances. At the same time, modern diets may be doing lasting damage to the microbial ecosystems inside us.

Low-fat or low-carb? It’s a draw, study finds

Stanford researchers have found that, contrary to previous studies, insulin levels and a specific genotype pattern don’t predict weight-loss success.

Study traces hospital-acquired bloodstream infections to patients’ own bodies

A computational tool designed by Stanford scientists, including Ami Bhatt, makes it easier to identify the source of bloodstream infections and, ideally, rid patients of reservoirs where potentially troublesome microbes reside.

Scientists use dietary seaweed to manipulate gut bacteria in mice

Gut bacteria able to digest seaweed can outcompete native bacteria in the large intestine of nori-fed mice, according to Stanford scientists. Favoring one species over others in the gut could help advance precision health.

The doctor is in … your gut

There are trillions of bacteria living inside our guts. Now, researchers aim to harness those intestinal microbes to cure what ails us.

Gut bacteria byproduct protects against Salmonella

A molecule called propionate inhibits the growth of Salmonella in mice and may be a promising new treatment for people sickened by the pathogen, according to a new Stanford study.

Druglike molecules produced by gut bacteria can affect gut, immune health

Stanford researchers found that manipulating the gut microbe Clostridium sporogenes changed levels of molecules in the bloodstreams of mice and, in turn, affected their health.

Weight flux alters molecular profile

Stanford scientists, including Michael Snyder, have found links between changes in a person’s weight and shifts in their microbiome, immune system and cardiovascular system.

Hunter-gatherers’ seasonal gut-microbe diversity loss echoes our permanent one

Scientists from Stanford and their collaborators have linked a traditional population’s seasonally varying diet to cyclical changes in the number of gut-residing microbial species.

Nearly all the microbes inside us are unknown to science

A survey of DNA fragments circulating in the blood suggests the microbes living within us are vastly more diverse than previously known. In fact, 99 percent of that DNA has never been seen before, report Stephen Quake and his lab.

Center launched to explore, exploit human microbiome

Co-director David Relman says the center will accelerate research bent on learning more about the internal microbial ecosystems with which we co-exist, and on applying this knowledge to enhance people’s health.

Low-fiber diet may cause irreversible depletion of gut bacteria over generations

Researchers Justin and Erica Sonnenburg found that when mice with gut bacteria from a human were put on a low-fiber diet, the diversity of their intestinal inhabitants plummeted. Four generations on a low-fiber diet caused irreversible losses.

Drug disarms deadly C. difficile bacteria without destroying healthy gut flora

A drug that blocks the intestinal pathogen without killing resident, beneficial microbes may prove superior to antibiotics, currently the front-line treatment for the infection.

Bacterial community in pregnant women linked to preterm birth, study finds

A specific pattern of high bacterial diversity in the vagina during pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of giving birth prematurely, a new study finds.

Identification of microbes in healthy lungs sheds light on cystic fibrosis in new study

A study of lung tissue and sputum by David Cornfield and colleagues found different bacteria and less bacterial diversity among people with cystic fibrosis.

Repeated antibiotic use alters gut’s composition of beneficial microbes, study shows

Using an otherwise benign antibiotic over and over again creates cumulative and persistent changes to the population of beneficial microorganisms inhabiting the human gut.

Variance in gut microbiome in Himalayan populations linked to dietary lifestyle

Researchers at Stanford and several other institutions have linked the gut ecosystems of four Himalayan groups to the extent of each group’s departure from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Stunning diversity of gut bacteria uncovered by new approach to gene sequencing devised at Stanford

Michael Snyder and colleagues find that the many microbes living in our intestines are far more diverse than once suspected.