EAST LANSING, Mich. At any given time, trillions of tiny microbes some helpful, some harmful are living on and in humans, forming communities and outnumbering the body's own cells tenfold.
Using a $7.3 million federal grant that establishes a new cooperative research center at Michigan State University, a group of investigators is studying the microbes that live in our intestines, analyzing the role they play in food- and water-borne illnesses that kill millions of people each year worldwide.
MSU's Enterics Research Investigational Network, one of four such U.S. research centers being funded by five-year grants from the National Institutes of Health, is led by Linda Mansfield, a microbiologist with the College of Veterinary Medicine. The team is looking at the enteric microbiome, or all the microbes that live in the human gut.
"Our long-term goal is to develop new interventions and treatments for food- and water-borne diseases; we want to know what makes people more susceptible or more resistant to enteric diseases," said Mansfield, whose group is focusing on illnesses caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium difficile and Campylobacter, among others. "Evidence suggests the enteric microbiome profoundly affects our health and disease susceptibility and may be a new preventive and therapeutic target."
Enteric diseases, which are primarily caused by food- and water-borne pathogens, are the leading cause of acute diarrheal illness, which despite concerted efforts remains a continued threat in the United States, particularly among children.
Overall, investigators from the colleges of Veterinary Medicine, Human Medicine, Natural Science and Engineering as well as the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station are taking part in the project. The research team will be looking at three specific areas:
*Microbial ecology and pathogenesis: Led by microbiologist Robert Britton, researchers will use a bioreactor
|Contact: Jason Cody|
Michigan State University