Natural gut viruses join bacterial cousins in maintaining health and fighting infections

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Microbiologists at NYU Langone Medical Center say they have what may be the first strong evidence that the natural presence of viruses in the gut — or what they call the ‘virome’ — plays a health-maintenance and infection-fighting role similar to that of the intestinal bacteria that dwell there and make up the “microbiome.”

In a series of experiments in mice that took two years to complete, the NYU Langone team found that infection with the common murine norovirus, or MNV, helped mice repair intestinal tissue damaged by inflammation and helped restore the gut’s immune defenses after its microbiome had been wiped out by antibiotic therapy.

“Our research offers compelling data about the mutually supportive relationship between viruses and bacteria in the mouse gut and lays the groundwork for further research on precisely how the virome supports the immune system, which likely applies to humans, as well,” says senior study investigator Ken Cadwell, PhD, an assistant professor at NYU Langone.

Funding support for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health grants R01 DK093668, and P30 CA016087. Additional support was provided by the Ralph S. French Charitable Foundation, the NYU Whitehead Fellowship, Vilcek Fellowship, and the Erwin Schrodinger Fellowship from the Austrian Science Foundation.

Besides Cadwell, other NYU Langone researchers involved in these experiments were lead study investigators Elisabeth Kernbauer, PhD, and Yi Ding, MD, PhD.

Source : Science Daily News

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