Bacteria for a healthier gut

Vanni Bucci researches probiotics for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Richard Stein, left, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Vanni Bucci published a method to predict the success of probiotics for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer.
Richard Stein, left, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Vanni Bucci, right, of UMassD, have published research on the success of probiotics in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer.

People suffering from digestive ailments could someday benefit significantly from research conducted by Vanni Bucci, assistant professor of bioengineering, and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The researchers created a model to predict which bacteria are helpful in treating various stomach ailments. An accurate prediction system can lead to the right balance of bacteria to produce a healthy gut, which will help doctors and scientists treat inflammatory, allergic, and other digestive ailments.

"In previous work, our collaborators and paper co-authors identified 17 different strains of bacteria that can generate the required immune response, but determining the best combinations from these strains would need more than 130,000 independent experiments," said Bucci.

In a trial run on mice, Bucci and the other researchers were able to predict the most effective treatment to return the test subjects’ stomachs to optimal health. The bacterial combinations with the highest scores from the prediction model generated more immune cells and helped colonize a healthier gut.

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