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Gut Bacteria May Be Key to Gastric Bypass' Effects: Study
Date:3/27/2013

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Gastric bypass surgery may help people lose weight by changing the makeup of bacteria living in the intestines, suggests a new study conducted in mice.

Scientists from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston discovered that performing gastric bypass surgery on mice altered the composition of the bacterial colony living in the animals' guts. Even when they did not perform the surgery, and just transferred the new bacterial colony into the intestines of mice, those mice lost weight.

"Simply by colonizing mice with the altered microbial community, the mice were able to maintain a lower body fat, and lose weight -- about 20 percent as much as they would if they underwent surgery," senior study author Peter Turnbaugh, a Bauer Fellow at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences Center for Systems Biology, said in a statement.

Turnbaugh's research partner said the implications of the finding might one day be far-reaching.

"Our study suggests that the specific effects of gastric bypass on the microbiota contribute to its ability to cause weight loss, and that finding ways to manipulate microbial populations to mimic those effects could become a valuable new tool to address obesity," senior study author Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at Massachusetts General, said in a statement.

"The ability to achieve even some of these effects without surgery would give us an entirely new way to treat the critical problem of obesity, one that could help patients unable or unwilling to have surgery," Kaplan added.

Another expert agreed that the gut is intricately tied to weight loss.

"The gut is a key player in metabolism, and this makes it even more than ever an ideal target for interventions for treating metabolic diseases and obesity," said Dr. Francesco Rubino, a research
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