Bottled mucus may help gut disease
It may sound disgusting, but “bottled mucus” could prove to be an effective treatment for people who suffer from immune deficiency problems, such as Crohn’s disease or asthma, according to new research.
Scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have been investigating the trillions of bacteria that live inside human intestines. And they have focused on why the lining of the bowel does not seem to be harmed by such a large amount of bacteria, when the same amount of bacteria would undoubtedly be attacked by the immune system elsewhere in the body.
The new study, published in the journal Science, showed that the intestine’s protective properties might be attributed to mucus.
The team of researchers investigated how mucus produced by the intestines interacted with the immune system and found that it served as a protective barrier between bacteria and the immune system. More significantly, they found that a property of the mucus, in which sugars stuck to a certain mucus protein, worked to calm the immune system.
The implications of these findings are that mucus could help alleviate bowel problems caused, at least in part, by inflammation, such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.