Study in Mice May Hold Key to Human Weight Loss

Fecal transplants may hold key to curbing natural weight gain

The digestive tract holds a plethora of bacterium that is likely not the first thing on just about anyone’s mind. However, scientists are now looking at that very thing in mice, and the correlation between the tiny creatures and the human perspective of obesity may change the way people look at a person’s gut germs.

The research is still within the preliminary stages, and there are still considerable obstacles in the way, but a “fecal transplant” is now being used to help individual intestinal disorders. And now the findings from researchers at the University of Colorado have revealed the potential for the approach.

Justin Sonnenburg, who works as an assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, stated that the new form may be “ a way to swap bacteria that’s not gross. And there may even be a pill you could take.”

The study looked at what exactly would happen if germs from a thin person were transferred to a larger person. Researchers took fecal bacteria from four sets of adults, a set of female mice twins, wherein one was obese. The study then transplanted the germs into the subjects and fed them various diets.

“[The results] show that mice that get microbes from obese individuals gain more weight than those that get microbes from lean individuals,” said study co-author Rob Knight, an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “In other words, the weight gain can be transmitted from humans to mice by transferring their microbes.”

The research means that it may be possible to disrupt what is otherwise natural weight gain by transferring the gut bacterium from one person to another. However, there is still more that needs to be known about the germs inside humans, according to Knight. Such types of results from animal studies, however, have not always transferred well to humans.

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