Every person's intestinal system falls into one of three clearly distinguishable types of gut microbiota, comparable to blood types. These types are not related to race, native country or diet, according to a new metagenomics study by an international consortium of scientists including Jeroen Raes, of the VIB and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, published in Nature. Metagenomics is the study of the genetic material of complete ecosystems, in this case the human gut.

"The three gut types can explain why the uptake of medicines and nutrients varies from person to person," says bioinformatician Jeroen Raes of the VIB and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, one of the two lead researchers in the study. "This knowledge could form the basis of personalized therapies. Treatments and doses could be determined on the basis of the gut type of the patient." Improved knowledge of the gut types could also lead to other medical applications, such as the early diagnosis of intestinal cancer, Crohn's disease and the adverse effects of obesity.

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