Guts in a dish: UVA research checking how microbes regulate the body’s biological clock

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - At the UVA School of Medicine, Dr. Sean Moore and his team are using mini “guts in a dish” to study the body’s biological clock.

The research looks at how the microbes in our bodies act at different hours of the day, and to explore the benefits of targeting specific times in their behavior. Dr. Moore says timing can be everything.

The team found that gut microbes regulate our inner cells by manufacturing short-chain fatty acids made by gut bacteria. These are critical timekeepers for biological processes because they switch certain mammalian genes on and off as needed over 24-hour periods, as the study noted.

Researchers say gut health can impact sleep disorders, jet lag, and even chemotherapy outcomes.

“One aspect which this research brings to the table is the element of timing. There may be a precise time of day to take medications to the benefit of good gut health, or that could help avoid certain side effects from other medications,” Dr. Moore said.

Dr. Moore says the next step he wants to take involves putting the mini guts into a device at UVA to stretch the cells to see even more of its structure and how it impacts our biological clocks.

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