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Science Papers Look into Effect of industrialized life on Gut Microbiome, More

The lifestyles of people living in industrialized societies may be threatening the existence of gut microbial communities necessary for optimal human health, according to a review appearing in Science this week. In the article, a pair of Stanford University researchers suggests that aspects of industrialized life — such as processed food consumption and antibiotic use — has led to a "major shift" in the gut microbiota of entire populations that could have unintended and detrimental consequences. "As macroecologists, conservationists, and climate scientists race to document, understand, predict, and delay global changes in our wider environment, microbiota scientists may benefit by using analogous approaches to study and protect our intimate microbial ecosystems," they write. 

A team of Chinese scientists have engineered cells to undergo gene editing when triggered by a compound found in green tea. According to a study in Science Translational Medicine, the investigators engineered cells with CRISPR-Cas9 systems that are activated by the green tea metabolite protocatechuic acid (PCA) and introduced them into human and mouse cell lines. The researchers also implanted PCA-responsive cells — modified to control blood glucose levels — into mouse and monkey models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and found that the animals' glucose levels dropped when they drank concentrated green tea or were given PCA. "This work demonstrates a safe, robust, and convenient strategy for the dynamic remote control of therapeutic outputs for future gene and cell-based precision medicine applications," the authors write.