UF scientists: Gut microbe finding in mice may help protect pregnant women from malaria

Malaria is a disease that affects the lives
of millions of people, killing hundreds of thousands of people every year. One of the most vulnerable groups are pregnant
women and that can impact the outcome of the pregnancy including low birth weight and pre-term
labor and the disease will then have important implications for the growth and development
of that baby even after birth. So what this study found was quite exciting
that the microbial community in the gut of the pregnant mice, a complex community of
viruses, bacteria and eukaryotic organisms can actually influence the course of a malaria
infection. The gut microbial community in someway is
working with the host to control the infection. This study focused on the bacteria specifically. So what this study shows is that even if the
mice have a lot of genetic diversity, if we change their gut microbial communities to
have certain members, it appears that this can frame or perhaps shape the immune response
that then influences the outcome of the infection. If we can come up with a simple intervention
like giving women a probiotic that could help their body modulate their immune responses
and control a malaria infection effectively we could have impact on millions of babies
in malarious areas.

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