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Medtech Impact on Wellness

Dr. Jakob Begun is a professor at the University of Queensland School of Medicine where he runs a research lab, as well as a practicing gastroenterologist at the Mater Hospital where he runs an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) clinic.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What the important distinctions are between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Why identifying microbial diversity in the gut isn’t sufficient to understand how individual communities of microbes might be interacting or affecting the host, and how Begun’s research aims to address this
  • What conditions fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) can be used for and how it may stack up against pharmaceuticals as a treatment for certain conditions
  • What factors may be at play in the development of early immunity

You have approximately 10 pounds of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract at this very moment. What is the role and function of these bacteria? How many species exist, and how do they interact with one another? How does the immune system come to tolerate these bacteria…or do they? These are just a few of the questions discussed by Dr. Begun on today’s show.

Dr. Begun has a particular interest in understanding the interplay between the gut microbiome and the immune system, and specifically how the bacteria in our gut can influence inflammation in our body. He points to the rising incidence of IBD alongside industrialization as a motivating factor for understanding what’s really at play. He argues that in order to develop a better understanding, it is necessary to understand the function of individual bacteria within the gut, rather than an overview of the types and quantity of species present.

This approach will allow for the determination of which chemicals are being produced by which bacteria in the gut, which may lead to an understanding of whether those chemicals promote or suppress inflammatory responses. He describes the technique employed in his lab for studying this, and how he believes this research could shape the future of clinical treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and many other immune-mediated diseases, which are also increasing at unprecedented rates around the world.

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