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Our gut as we all know is home to innumerable different bacteria — a complex ecosystem that has an active role in a variety of bodily functions. In a study published on the 13th May 2013 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,[1] a team of researchers finds that in mice, just one of key bacterial species plays a major part in controlling obesity and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.

The bacterium, unfamiliar to many of us and called Akkermansia muciniphila, digests the epithelial mucus and makes up 3–5% of the microbes in a healthy mammalian gut. But the intestines of obese humans and mice, and those with type 2 diabetes, have much lower levels. The researchers led by Patrice Cani, who studies the interaction between gut bacteria and metabolism at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, decided to investigate the link.

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