Heidelberg/ New Delhi: A research team at EMBL screened over 1000 marketed drugs against 40 representative bacteria from the human gut, and found that more than a quarter of the non-antibiotics (250 out of 923) affect the growth of at least one species in the microbiome. Among the group leaders includes an Indian origin scientist, Dr Kiran Patil. Other leaders who also led the work include Peer Bork, Nassos Typas, and Georg Zeller.
The human gut contains a large number of species of bacteria, collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. In the last decade, it has become clear that the composition of the gut microbiome affects human health. It is well-known that antibiotics have a large impact on this microbiome, for example causing gastrointestinal side effects.
Recently, a few commonly used non-antibiotic drugs have been shown to cause changes in gut microbiome composition, but the full extent of this phenomenon was unknown until now. The current paper is the first to systematically profile direct interactions between marketed drugs and individual gut bacteria. Not only anti-infectives, but drugs from all therapeutic classes inhibited the growth of different gut microbes.
“The number of unrelated drugs that hit gut microbes as collateral damage was surprising,” says Peer Bork. “Especially since we show that the actual number is likely to be even higher. This shift in the composition of our gut bacteria contributes to drug side-effects, but might also be part of the drugs’ beneficial action.”
Kiran Patil adds: “This is just the beginning. We don’t know yet how most of these drugs target microbes, how these effects manifest in the human host, and what the clinical outcomes are. We need to carefully study these relationships, as this knowledge could dramatically improve our understanding and the efficacy of existing drugs.”
(Watch the detailed video to understand the mechanism)