When we thought we already knew everything about the digestive system, a new discovery appears that reveals a little more of what the human intestine hides, that organ that we never mention but without which life would not be possible.
It is about the discovery that Each person’s gut viral load is as unique as their fingerprintsIn other words, no two people have the same variety and proportion of viruses in this part of their digestive system.
This finding was reported in a publication in the medical journal Cell Host & Microbe, which reveals the findings of a study by researchers at the University of Ohio, United States.
These researchers they thoroughly reviewed the «Human Gut Virome» database, created by said university and which contains data obtained from numerous studies carried out on healthy people of different ages for more than 10 years.
What the human intestine hides: we have more than 30 thousand different viruses
For delve into what the human intestine hides Data were taken from 32 of those studies, in which intestinal samples had been taken from 1,986 individuals, both healthy and sick, from 16 countries on five continents.
With the use of advanced algorithms, it was possible to identify the genomes of the viruses collected in the samples of these patients, which made it possible to identify and catalog a total of 33,242 different viral populations or intestinal viromas.
The vast majority of these viral populations are harmless, but many types related to diseases were also cataloged, such as group causing intestinal flu.
Some things discovered between what the human intestine hides is that some social groups share the same subset of viral populations in their guts.
But instead, there is no intestinal virus that is common to the entire human race on the planet, among the 33,242 types cataloged to date.
In addition and more importantly, it was determined that there are no two people with the same viral composition in their intestines.
This means that the now called «Viral fingerprint» in the human intestine it is as particular to each one as fingerprints.
Perhaps the viruses within us will be decisive in the future to make the personalized medicine proposal, the curative therapy of the future.
More viruses, better health for the human gut
Something new discovered about what the human intestine hides is that healthy people from western countries have less variety of viroma than healthy individuals from eastern countries.
However, when the natives of Eastern countries migrate to the West, their viral diversity decreases, indicating a possible influence of climate and diet on the intestinal virome of human groups.
One of the co-authors of this study, the microbiologist Olivier Zablocki, revealed other findings that will be of great importance in the future of the fight against diseases of the digestive tract.
One of them is that there is a direct relationship between the variations in the amount and type of virus in the entrails of each person and the changes suffered in their bacterial flora throughout their lives.
It was also determined that healthier people had a greater variety and quantity of viruses and bacteria than those in weak health, which indicates that viruses may be playing a key role in protecting the body.
This reinforces the theory that viruses are an essential part of the human digestive ecosystem, which in turn could be used to design new medicines against bacterial diseases that do not respond to antibiotics.
Best Therapies for Digestive Tract Diseases
The results of the new study on what the human intestine hides will help better understand the gastrointestinal symptoms that occur in a small percentage of people infected with Covid-19.
For example, diagnosis could be improved between patients with Covid-19 and those with influenza or a cold, whose symptoms may be confused at first.
This could help detect infants with Covid-19 and isolate and treat them early, especially now that it has been discovered that children with mild symptoms may have a higher viral load than a very sick adult.
It also opens the door to new therapies to treat diarrhea and vomiting that can decompensate Covid-19 patients to very dangerous levels.
Zablocki made clear the importance of this study for modern medicine: «For the first time a basic criterion has been established on what the virome looks like in the human intestine”.
Do viruses protect the intestines?
It has long been known that the most common viruses are «phages,» which kill their host cells by using them to multiply at their expense.
But the study found numerous types of intestinal phage viruses that «coexist» with the cells they infect and help them compete and survive.
This includes both the cells of the intestinal epithelium themselves and the microbes that make up the beneficial «bacterial flora» that help process food and eliminate harmful pathogens.
«If we can characterize the viruses that keep us healthy, we could take advantage of that information to design better therapies in the future,» he said.
The research group assures that they still have much to discover about the positive or negative role of viruses in the intestines, as well as their varieties and their genome.
For this reason, they have set the goal of reopening and regularly update the Human Gut Virome database.
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