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PNASIn 2000, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine identified that a protein called zonulin was a critical molecule in the development of coeliac disease and other autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis and diabetes. This relationship further links the risk and progression of systemic disease to the health of the gastrointestinal tract.

Zonulin has, as is typical in the  history of immunology been further clarified and renamed as  haptoglobin 2 precursor.

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coverFish sampled from a total of 291 streams across the United States of America between the years of 1998 and 2005 were found to contain levels of mercury higher than those deemed safe for human ingestion. The report published in a non peer reviewed journal – the US Geological Survey in August 2009 says that more than 2 thirds of the fish sampled contained levels of mercury that exceeded the Environment Protection Agency’s level of concern for the protection of fish eating mammals – including humans.

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S1931312809X00090_cov150hToxoplasmosis is generally a mild infection, but it can have serious and potentially fatal effects in pregnant women, their foetuses and others with weakened immune systems.

In mice, T gondii directly activates a specific immune protein in the host, called toll-like receptor 11 (TLR-11), which helps control the animals’ immune response to the parasite. Humans, however, don’t have an active form of this receptor. Exactly how the body senses T gondii has remained unclear because the parasite doesn’t activate any of the functioning toll-like receptors that humans do possess.

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plosCrohn’s diease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Its exact cause is still to be elucidated but a mix of environmental and genetic factors are known to be important. In this study, investigators looked at identical twins microbial composition from their faecal material.

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helicobacterDr Rachel Olivier MS ND PhD describes the pathophysiology of the infection and explores the role of natural agents in the eradication and control of this ubiquitous organism.

In 1982, when this bacterium was discovered by Marshall and Warren, stress and lifestyle were considered the major causes of peptic ulcer disease. It is now firmly established that Helicobacter pylori causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. The link between Helicobacter pylori infection and subsequent gastritis and peptic ulcer disease has been established through studies of human volunteers, antibiotic treatment studies and epidemiological studies.

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gastroentrologyPURPOSE OF REVIEW: Advances in DNA sequence-based technologies now permit genetic analysis of complex microbial populations without the need for prior cultivation. This review summarizes the molecular methods of culture-independent microbiology (‘metagenomics’) and their recent application to studies of the human gastrointestinal tract in both health and disease.

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genome researchComment: Your mouth is home to a thriving community of microbial life. More than 600 different species of bacteria reside in this “microbiome,” yet everyone hosts a unique set of bugs, and this could have important implications for health and disease. The human body harbours ten times more bacterial cells than human cells – a stunning figure that suggests a likely dynamic between ourselves and the bacteria we carry, both in healthy and disease states.

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The Human Microbiome Project has awarded more than $42 million to expand its exploration of how the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in or on our bodies affect our health, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on June 24th 2009. The human microbiome is all the microorganisms that reside in or on the

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