Guts and Glory: David Lab Studies Gut Microbiome

graphic representation of bacteria under a microscope
GCB News

Guts and Glory: David Lab Studies Gut Microbiome

By Alexis Kessenich

Like fingerprints, everyone has a unique gut microbiome. The gut microbiome, the largest population of microbes in the body, affects a person from birth throughout life by impacting the immune system, central nervous system, digestion and other bodily processes.

Lawrence David and his lab are conducting a study to examine how prebiotic fiber supplements affect the gut microbiome. They will be analyzing participants’ diet, microbiota and metabolism.

Every other week for six weeks, participants will consume three different over-the-counter prebiotics. They will also collect their stool samples three times a week using a kit provided by the team, and complete three dietary surveys online. Researchers will look at both the microbiome community composition and the metabolites participants’ microbiomes are producing after eating these fiber sources. Study participants will receive a comprehensive report of their results once the information is processed.

“There is a lot of variation in how different people respond to different types of fiber,” said Zack Holmes, grad student in the David Lab, “which is why we want to get to the bottom of it.” Scientists already know eating fiber is good for the body. Now, they can use the microbiome to drill down into the mechanism of how fiber gets translated into benefit.

To be eligible for this study, participants must be between the ages of 18 - 70 years old, have not taken antibiotics in the last month and are not currently pregnant or soon plan to be. Participants also should not have food allergies, intestinal illnesses or diabetes.

Enrollment for this study began May 2018 and will continue on a rolling basis until they’ve enrolled 36 - 48 people.

To learn more or to enroll in the study, visit the David Lab or email prebiotics@duke.edu.

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