Thursday, November 27, 2014

Potential New Roles for Bacteria and B Cells in Promoting the Stomach Flu

A CDC infographic highlighting the infectivity of
Norovirus. <Source>


We are all unfortunately familiar with the notorious stomach flu.  Most of us have experienced that awful nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and tiredness associated with catching some stomach bug.  While there are many viral causes of the stomach flu (also called gastroenteritis), one of the most common is the Norovirus.  The Norovirus is a common and contagious virus that is currently the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis.  The infection can last a few days and, while most people recover, it can cause serious issues such as dehydration, and jeopardize the health of many at-risk populations.  There is also no vaccine against the Norovirus right now (the flu vaccine does not protect you from the stomach flu), although researchers are working on it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Using Specific Bacteria to Treat Antibiotic-Induced Diarrheal Disease (C. difficile)

Clostridium difficile establishes infections following
antibiotic treatment and causes diarrheal disease.
There has been a lot of talk about the microbiome and Clostridium difficile infections.  This is because patient antibiotic or chemotherapeutic exposure (both of which can destroy your commensal bacterial communities) increases the risk of C. difficile infection.  This observation suggests a role for commensal bacteria in mediating infection resistance.  The exact commensal bacteria that mediate protection against C. difficile infection are not known, but luckily for us, scientists are working on it.  A paper, recently published in Nature, describes a study that sheds light on what bacteria might be offering protection against C. difficile infection.