Gut "bugs" may prevent food allergies

Gut bacteria may have another benefit to add to the list: fighting food allergies. Researchers from the University of Chicago found that bacteria from within the digestive system may be able to be converted into a medicine that could block certain food allergies, such as allergic reactions to peanuts.

Scientists experimented on mice to test the effectiveness of the bacteria. A group of mice that grew up in sterile environments without any bacteria in their gut exhibited strong immune responses to peanuts. Scientists then added different strains of bacteria into their guts. The Clostridia group of bacteria was successful in preventing the allergic reaction to peanuts. This type of bacteria blocks the allergen from entering the blood stream and triggering an immune response.

The initial testing was performed only on mice so far, but researchers are hopeful that a drug from gut bacteria can be created to treat food allergies in the future. This approach could include desensitization therapies, where people are exposed to small doses of the bacteria until their immune system is used to it.

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