Human & Animal Health

Rectal Microbes Influence Effectiveness of HIV Vaccine

December 13, 2019
Microbes living in the rectum could make a difference to the effectiveness of experimental HIV vaccines, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis. The work is published Dec. 11 in the journal mSphere.  Evidence from human and animal studies with other vaccines suggests that Lactobacillus supplements can boost production of antibodies, while treatment with antibiotics can hamper beneficial immune responses, said Smita Iyer, assistant professor at the UC Davis Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases and School of Veterinary Medicine. 

Mapping the pathway to gut health in HIV and SIV infections

November 18, 2019
A UC Davis study found that the damaged gut lining (known as leaky gut) in monkeys infected with chronic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), an HIV-like virus, was rapidly repaired within five hours of receiving Lactobacillus plantarum bacteria.

B. infantis Reduces Intestinal Inflammation in Infants

November 05, 2019
In a recent study published in Pediatric Research, researchers have demonstrated that colonizing infants with a specific strain of probiotic bacteria --B. infantis EVC001--reduces intestinal inflammation up to 55-fold compared to infants receiving breastmilk only. The researchers on the study hypothesize that the lack of B. infantis in the gut may be at the root of the recent rise in autoimmune conditions.

Why Do Parents Keep Hearing About the Microbiome? Director Jonathan Eisen featured in NYT Parenting Article

October 17, 2019
What is the microbiome? The microbiome is a community of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes that live inside your body and on its surface. Just as in a community of people, you’ll find both good and bad actors: Some of the microbes, like the gut bacteria that help you digest food, are beneficial, while others, like certain viruses, can be dangerous. Everyone’s microbiome differs, depending on your age, gender, diet and immune system. And the types of microbes on one part of the body may be different from those on another.

Disease-Causing Nibbling Amoeba Hides by Displaying Proteins From Host Cells

April 30, 2019
A parasitic amoeba that causes severe gut disease in humans protects itself from attack by biting off pieces of host cells and putting their proteins on its own surface, according to a study by microbiologists at the University of California, Davis. “We’re very excited about how this ties into amoebic infection and into broader themes in cell biology,” said Katherine Ralston, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Biological Sciences.

Koala Poo, Chlamydia and the Microbiome: Biophysics Graduate Student Katherine Dahlhausen

January 15, 2019
Katherine Dahlhausen's microbial curiosity was inspired by a bacterial disease she contracted while traveling. Today, she's a student in the Biophysics Graduate Group and works in the lab of Professor Jonathan Eisen. She helped uncover that treatments meant to combat chlamydia in koalas actually hurt important gut microbes.

Stopping Superbugs With Friendly Microbes

November 19, 2018
Professor Bruce German of the UC Davis Food Science & Technology department has spent the past two decades studying lactation and its role in evolution. Among the findings of a group of scientists from across the campus: human milk contains a large proportion of oligosaccharides — short chains of sugar molecules — that babies can’t digest, so they “run right through them.” (If you have a certain kind of diaper-changing experience, you know what this looks like.) The question was, why? German joined with Professor Carlito Lebrilla from the UC Davis chemistry department and School of Medicine to analyze these amazingly complex oligosaccharides. German suspected that these oligosaccharides existed to nourish bacteria, not the baby. He turned to colleague Professor David Mills, a UC Davis molecular biologist, to find out which bacteria could digest these human milk oligosaccharides.

Microbiome testing firms proliferate along with questions about their claims

August 08, 2018
University of California, Davis, microbiologist Jonathan Eisen has been outspoken in his disdain for the burgeoning biome market, calling out one of the companies on Twitter as the “Theranos of microbiome companies” a reference to the infamous blood-testing firm whose founder was indicted on fraud charges in June.  “I just think that it’s early to be saying that we can make recommendations about what people should do based upon one of these microbiome diagnostics,” said Eisen.