One project that I would be excited about would be the research into the different gut microbiota compositions that lead to specific mental disorders. Mental health is currently treated through the use of counseling and medications. It has been suggested that these medications are symptom-relieving short term, but can actually exacerbate them long term. By being able to link specific dysbiotic compositions to specific mental disorders, we are able to individualize treatment plans to treat the specific dysbiosis without possibly progressing the mental conditions. This would change the way that we currently treat mental disorders and may change the field entirely.
Cancer, mental disorders, Crohn’s, GI imbalance, immune system disorders
Referring back to Writing Exercise #1, I am able to be exact when stating that these are non-infectious diseases influenced by microorganisms. For writing exercise #1 I was able to list non-infectious diseases but was not able to state whether they were influenced by microorganisms or not. One big topic that will remain on my mind will be the sheer magnitude of the interaction between our microbiota and entire health. I think the biggest asset, however, is the ability to read and interpret scientific works such as research studies, reviews, case studies, and survey studies and am able to more easily make my own conclusion based on the findings.
Can experiments detect differences that matter? This question refers to the sensitivity of technology and its ability to detect significant differences. Hanage states that even within species, bacterial strains’ genes differ greatly.
Does the study show causation or correlation? Hanage used the example of a study which explored the diets of seniors, altering and causing dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, thus, causing poor health. Yes, the conclusion fit the results, but Hanage argues that due to their age, seniors have poor health which altered the gut microbiome. The reverse causality was not explored or mentioned. We must keep other factors in mind when discusing results and planning experiments.
What is the mechanism? Hanage argues that we must “pinpoint both whether the microbiome effects human health, and excactly how it does so” by focusing on the actions of specific components of the microbiome. We must be aware of how said components effect the microbiome in order to assess the importance of the results.
How much do experiments reflect reality? We must always keep this question in mind when discussing results. With microbiome related experiments, it is almost impossible to recreate the gut enviornment in a lab. Considering this, lab results may not always be reflected in clinical trials, or real-life uses.
Could anything else explain the results? Similarly to causation vs correlation, this question refers to other factors potentially affecting the results. Hanage explains that there are sometimes other more important facorsthat may explain results.
When discussing controversy, I think the most helpful question is “Does the study show causation or correlation?” This is because the human body is immensly complex and contains an plethora of interconnecting mechanisms. Yes, results may back up conclusions, but there is usually more to the picture. Such as in Hanage’s example, the results clearly backed up the conclusion, but the experimental designer made a mistake by not stepping back and exploring other potential causes of the results.
The relationship between mental health states and the gut microbial community is referred to as the gut-brain axis. This relationship is bi-directional meaning that the brain influences the gut microbiota and the gut microbiota influences that brain. The gut microbiota influences the brain through systemic means, using small molecules such as neurotransmitters, and through neural means, using sympathetic nerves. It is hypothesized that the gut microbiota can influence mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even autsim spectrum disorders. The brain influences the gut microbiota through neural means specifically through the vagus nerve and other sympathetic nerves, and also through the use of small molecules. By working towards a symbiotic gut microbiome, it is believed that mental health states are improved. There is believed to be a link between our microbiota and potentially treating schezophrnisa, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, and other mental heath conditions. This topic is still very widely controversial but current evidence shows lots of promise.
As a reviewer, I feel that the job was very personal. The work that was submitted to me showed that a lot of effort was given to create it, which intrinsically drove me to do a good job in submitting my thoughts. It makes sense why journals may take months to review and publish a single piece of work, the work has to be very exact and extensively thought out. I think reviewing the work has helped me to be more detail orientated while working on my own work. Knowing that someone is going to take a lot of time reviewing it, reading each sentence multiple times, pushes me to review my own writing sentence by sentence. I think I personally have to work on routing my writing back to my thesis and bringing ideas together. I have really enjoyed reading and reviewing other students’ works.
The peer review process is simple but very labor intensive. The authors decide on a journal that they would like their work published in once they have a complete manuscript contain all necessary data of their work. They will submit their manuscript to a journal editor who will initally work with the journal publisher to decide if the work is a good fit for the journal. If rejected, the authors may attempt to publsh their work in a different journal. If approved, the work is then sent to 2-4 peer reviewers who are knowledgeable in the specific field of work of the submitted manuscript. They will create a letter to editor which contains their insights on the techiniques used to collect data, the interpretation of the results, the merit of the results and editing recommendations. This letter will contain a final recommendation whether the work is appropriate for the journal or not. The authors will receive the editing recommendations and will resubmit their work after revising in hopes of it being accepted for publishing. This can occur multiple times until the work is published or rejected. The process allows work that has been reviewed by professional peers to only be published. This decreases the chance that inappropriate work is published. The process however, is very labor intensive and may take months until the original manuscript is published. The editors do not always receive all the data results which may effect the way that they view the presented materials. This may negatively impact the credibility of the final work.
The first thing that came to mind is the use of antibacterial hand soap and hand sanitizer. We increase its use when we want to decrease bacterial exposure and transmission such as when there is a sickness in the home or there is a newborn baby. We also regularly bathe and shower which decreases the microbes that cause body odor. We brush and floss our teeth to decrease the microbes that cause smelly breath, cavities, and mouth diseases. Some individuals add bleach to their dish soap to kill the bacteria. The use of face masks decrease exposure to airborne microbes. Some parents will restrict their children to indoor play to avoid bacterial exposure.
For the final review paper, I think I will focus my topic on antibiotic resistance and the effect that it has on the research of new drugs. I am interested to know the extent of antibiotic resistance and how scientists and healthcare providers are working to lessen the effect. Are scientists racing to find cures to pathogens that have developed a resistance? Are providers seeing a rise in the number of patients that present with recurring infections that had already been “treated” with antibiotics? Which antibiotics caused the most resistance? And, which infections are most prone to mutations? These are just a few questions that I immediately think of when reflecting on antibiotic resistance. I expect the questions to narrow in focus as research into antibiotic resistance continues. I think I will find a peer-reviewed article that involves antibiotic resistance to help me focus on a more specific topic within the realm of antibiotic resistance. Once I narrow the topic, I think it will be easier to direct the paper appropriately.
Potential factors that could influence the microbial community in a newborn infant include the mother’s diet and her environment. As the mother eats food, the nutrients are passed onto the baby through the umbilical cord. The food itself does not necessary enter the baby’s stomach, which may mean that the diet itself does not actually influence the new up and coming microbial community. The mother’s environment may contain bacteria or viruses that have the capability to influence the mother’s own microbial community, which may in part then influence the microbial community of the unborn baby. This influence is most likely negative, where as a mother’s diet can be both positive and negative.
I generally tend to be a healthy individual and have only taken antibiotics a handful of times in my life. I developed strep throat a few years ago and was given an antibiotic drug treatment. This type of infection is best treated by antibiotics which are safe, inexpensive, and work well on this type of bacteria when taken correctly (1). The treatment was about two weeks long and I remember experiencing relief only a couple days after beginning it. In a case like this, and in similar cases, I would advise in favor of antibiotics use to treat the infection. Studying antibiotics in other classes has led me to discover that generally, antibiotics are safe and effective when taken correctly. It is necessary to complete treatment, even when the infection seems to have subsided in order to eliminate all the infectious organisms which can develop immunity to the antibiotic. This would make it extremely difficult to treat a recurring infection. I currently work in a medical setting and have first hand experience working with patients. I know that discussions held during an office visit are very often forgotten later in time. Because of this, I would be very conservative when considering this treatment and would emphasize the importance of completing treatment when advising on this medication.