Medical ecology, or doctors as wildlife managers

Very informative and fascinating article in the NYT this morning reviewing various aspects of research on the gut microbiome, virome, and fungome. Topics include the changes in vaginal bacteria during pregnancy, in breast milk, and in infants, as well as my favorite, fecal transplants. I mentioned this in my book, and Alexander Khoruts of the University of Minnesota says they are now extracting the bacteria from the stool, to “remove the ick factor” from the treatment. Clinical trials to test this in severe gut clostridial infections are beginning. Fecal transplants are also being tested as treatment for obesity in Amsterdam, as mouse experiments suggest that this could be effective. Recall also my previous posts about changes in gut microbiota in autism.

And then there is the amazing estimate that $28 billion was spent in 2011 on probiotic foods and supplements, despite the paucity of evidence that they are efficacious or even successfully colonize the gut! That’s OK though, as I’m doing the same thing…

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4 Responses to Medical ecology, or doctors as wildlife managers

  1. blackheart says:

    There has been a huge flurry of articles regarding the human microbiome particularly the gut recently. Science, Scientific American and Nature have all run “Special Issues” it must be heartening Paul to see some of the good work that you guys have been undertaking starting to see appearances in the mainstream press and the like.

    Good luck with your future research.

    • phpatterson says:

      Thx Blackheart. Yes, it’s astounding, the sudden outpouring of articles. We have not published our major contribution yet, but hope to later this year – still waiting on important results from a key experiment.

  2. Inas Younis says:

    Dear Dr. Patterson. I am a mother of two autistic boys. One C-section, and severely afflicted. If commercial probiotics, even the obscenely priced variety (which i use), cannot colonize the gut enough to make any real difference, what can? And do you know where in the states is fecal transplantation being done? Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    Thank you for this revolutionary work you are doing.


    • phpatterson says:

      I am sorry to hear about your boys Inas; what a burden you are carrying each and every day. But I appreciate that you are searching for further treatment options. I know of at least two centers, in Minneapolis and NYC, that are doing fecal transplants for GI disorders (as mentioned in my prior posts and in my book). However, I don’t know of any such trials for autism – I checked a couple of weeks ago. However, you could certainly ask a center that is using the method for GI disorders if they were interested in testing it in ASD as well. I think you can find the names in my blog. However, it would seem to me to worth looking into only if the patient had GI problems and/or immune dysregulation. I wish you the best with your boys, PHP

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