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Villain Stomach Bug May Have a Sweet Side: 'Bad' Gut Bacteria May Help Control Diabetes

A stomach bacterium believed to cause health problems such as gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer may play a dual role by balancing the stomach's ecosystem and controlling body weight and glucose tolerance, according to immunologists at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute of Virginia Tech.

Usually the villain in studies of gastric cancer and peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infect about half of the world's population although most infected individuals don't get sick. The bacterium's dwindling numbers coincide with the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in developed countries.

"H. pylori is the dominant member of the gastric microbiota and infects about half of the world population. While H. pylori infection can be associated with severe disease, it helps control chronic inflammatory, allergic, or autoimmune diseases," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, director of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory and the Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens (MIEP) at Virginia Tech. "We demonstrated for the first time that gastric colonization with H. pylori exerts beneficial effects in mouse models of obesity and diabetes."
 
 

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