In a paper published in Science, Peter Turnbaugh, a Bauer Fellow at the Center for Systems Biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Henry Haiser, a postdoctoral fellow, identified a pair of genes that appear to be responsible for allowing a specific strain of bacteria to break down a widely prescribed cardiac drug into an inactive compound, as well as a possible way to turn the process off.

"The traditional view of microbes in the gut relates to how they influence the digestion of our diet," Turnbaugh said. "But we also know that there are over 40 different drugs that can be influenced by gut microbes. What's really interesting is that although this has been known for decades, we still don't really understand which microbes are involved or how they might be processing these compounds."

To answer those questions, Turnbaugh and his colleagues chose to focus on digoxin, one of the oldest known cardiac glycosides. The medicine is typically prescribed to treat heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.


Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk