Over the years there have been anecdotal reports of oral medications being chemically altered by some gut microbes, although the scale of this problem was unknown.
Researchers at Yale University conducted experiments on 76 types of bacteria found in the human gut, to determine their ability to chemically alter 271 oral medications. The bacteria were incubated for 12 hours with the medications; in that time two-thirds of the medications were molecularly altered by at least one bacterial strain.
Further experiments were then conducted, that allowed the team to determine which fragments of the bacteria’s DNA were interacting with the medication to alter it. The researchers then searched for these same DNA fragments in the fecal samples of 28 people. The team found that amount of the drug altering DNA fragments in the samples aligned with how much that microbe population was able to alter a certain drug. Using this information the team was able to show that the way a person will react to medication can be predicted by the genetic composition of their gut bacteria.
This research is promising, in the future it may help clinicians prescribe the best medications for individuals based on their microbiota. In some cases it may even be possible to manipulate a patient’s gut bacteria, using either fecal transplants or antibiotics, in order to ensure the success of medications. It may also lead to pharmaceutical companies designing medications that utilize the interactions with the gut bacteria to make them more effective.
Source: Science News
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