Nov 07, 2014 03:23 PM EST
Genetics has taught us that traits are hereditary, and many of our physical and physiological attributes have been passed on to us by our parents or earlier ancestors. A new study found that a certain type of microorganism is actually good for fighting obesity. And this microorganism is also inherited from one's bloodline.
The bacterium Christensenella minuta, a type of naturally-occurring bacteria in the stomach could fight off quick weight gain that usually leads to obesity.
The study explored the fecal samples of 416 twin pairs in the United Kingdom and found that the said bacteria was more common in lean individuals. Also, the research team found that the abundance of Christensenellaceae bacteria was more similar in identical twins, compared to fraternal twins.
The research team also experimented on mice, transplanting some of the microbes into mice. The procedure showed slower weight gain. The researchers were able to treat mice with the said bacterial family which made the animals gain less weight compared to mice that did not get the same treatment.
Study leader Dr. Ruth Ley, associate professor in the department of microbiology at Cornell University, said that even though their initial findings had suggested the bacterium could be contributing to a lean phenotype, they had been fairly stunned to see its effect in mice and had repeated the experiment several times, according to reports from BBC.
They group are also working to identify what genes influence the presence of Christensenellaceae bacteria and why it would have this effect on weight.
"Once we have found out how it works in mice, if it seems like we can apply that to humans we can look into developing this as a probiotic to regulate weight," Ley said.
"Our genes influence whether we are fat or thin by shaping which types of microbes thrive in our gut," according to the researchers.
The discovery suggested healthy bacteria might one day be used to treat obesity. The study "should allow us to understand the nature of our association with these health-associated bacteria and eventually to exploit them to promote health," according to the researchers in their published study.
The research was published Thursday in the journal Cell. The research was led by Julia K. Goodrich and Ruth E. Ley of Cornell University's Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.
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