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Culprits and cures for obesity may reside in our gut
Date:7/25/2011

Obesity in the United States is reaching ever more alarming proportions, posing a severe menace to public health and exacerbating a crisis in health care costs both domestically and worldwide.

Now, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and fellow researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, in collaboration with Dr. John DiBaise and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, are looking into what may be a leading driver in body weight regulationthe diverse zoo of microorganisms inhabiting the human gut.

The team will explore the contributions of so-called gut microflora to the success or failure of two popular treatments for obesity, hopefully gaining new insight into how body weight is managed (or mismanaged) based on the demographics of these microorganisms. "We normally use microorganisms to solve environmental problems such as water clean-up and energy production," Krajmalnik-Brown says. "Now we are excited to have the opportunity to assess the contributions of our best collaborators, i.e., microorganisms, to human digestion and health."

The new study, supported by a 4 year, $1.7 million grant from the NIH, is part of a continuing collaboration between Biodesign and the Mayo Clinic. It began when John DiBaise, a gastroenterologist at Mayo, started to explore the underlying mechanisms leading to obesity and to contemplate possible alternatives to gastric bypass surgerycurrently, one of the most effective treatments for morbid obesity.

DiBaise enlisted the help of Bruce Rittmann, director of Biodesign's Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnologyan expert on the use of microbial communities for human benefit, particularly in the areas of bioremediation and renewable bioenergy. Fellow researcher Krajmalnik-Brown, principle investigator for the new study, brings her detailed knowledge of microbial ecology to the table. She will apply modern high-throughput sequencing techniques to assess complex microbial commu
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Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer
Joseph.Caspermeyer@asu.edu
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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