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Inner Weapons Against Allergies: Gut Bacteria Control Allergic Diseases, Study Suggests

When poet Walt Whitman wrote that we "contain multitudes," he was speaking metaphorically, but he was correct in the literal sense. Every human being carries over 100 trillion individual bacterial cells within the intestine -- ten times more cells than comprise the body itself.

Now, David Artis, PhD, associate professor of Microbiology, along with postdoctoral fellow David Hill, PhD, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and collaborators from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and institutions in Japan and Germany, have found that these commensal bacteria might play an important role in influencing and controlling allergic inflammation. The commensal relationship that develops between humans and internal bacteria is one in which both humans and bacteria derive benefits.

The study -- appearing this week in Nature Medicine -- suggests that therapeutic targeting of immune cell responses to resident gut bacteria may be beneficial in treating allergic diseases.

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