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Molecular Link Between Gut Microbes, Intestinal Health

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It's well established that humans maintain a symbiotic relationship with the trillions of beneficial microbes that colonize their bodies. These organisms, collectively called the microbiota, help digest food, maintain the immune system, fend off pathogens, and more. There exists a long and growing list of diseases associated with changes in the composition or diversity of these bacterial populations, including cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and even autism.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of the best-studied diseases associated with alterations in the composition of beneficial bacterial populations. However, the nature of that relationship, and how it is maintained, has yet to be clarified.

Now, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a molecule that appears to play a starring role in this process.

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