School of Public Health

Gut bacteria research co-authored by Dean Vasan Ramachandran, MD featured in Nature

Photo Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Science Photo Library


Researchers have identified certain gut bacteria capable of converting cholesterol into a non-absorbable form, potentially paving the way for probiotic treatments for high cholesterol. These bacteria, analyzed from stool samples of 1,429 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, use enzymes similar to ismA, previously linked to lower cholesterol levels. This study, a collaboration between the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital and co-authored by Vasan Ramachandran, MD, dean for the UT School of Public Health San Antonio, who was also a multiple principal investigator of the grant funding the analyses, demonstrates innovative methods using deep-learning algorithms to probe the 'dark matter' of the microbiome. These findings suggest that enhancing specific bacterial populations in the gut might complement or reduce the need for traditional drugs like statins, although challenges remain in effectively delivering these bacteria to the gut.

See the article here: Gut bacteria break down cholesterol — hinting at probiotic treatments

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