Journal of Undergraduate Research


obesity, microbiome targeted, bacteriophage theraphy


Life Sciences


Microbiology and Molecular Biology


The human gut consists of approximately 1.5 kg of bacteria, and 50% of the biomass in our fecal matter is bacterial cells (Nicholson, 2005). Diet is a major factor in shaping the composition of the gut microbiota, (Zhang, 2010) which in turn influences the body by producing metabolites that enter the circulation through different pathways. In 2013, by using Koch’s postulates, scientists were able to demonstrate that the gram-negative opportunistic pathogen E. cloacae B29 can cause obesity and chronic inflammation in its host (Fei & Zhao, 2013). Bacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect bacteria. Phages bind to their bacterial host cells at specific and unique binding sites on the cell surface. They inject their DNA into the bacteria, causing the bacterial cell to fill with new progeny phages that lyse and kill the cell. We hypothesize that the host-specific characteristic of the phages can be utilized to develop a therapy, which can manipulate the gut microbiome by selectively reducing the number of obesity causing pathogen(s) to alleviate metabolic syndrome without damaging the population of probiotic and commensal bacteria.

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