The prevalence of malaria across the globe, particularly in countries with minimal health care availability, makes it a top priority for medical researchers. Dr. Nathan Schmidt’s lab discovered that mice from vendors from different geographical locations infected with malaria pathogens yielded significantly different parasite burdens. Researchers discovered that the reason behind the differences in parasite burden was a result of the different compositions of the gut microbiomes of the mice from the different vendors. The research in which I engaged involved manipulating the contents of the gut microbiome through yogurt in the hopes of lessening the parasite burden. Our results concluded that administering yogurt to mice did, indeed, result in a lower overall parasite burden compared to mice that did not receive yogurt for both vendors of mice. The reasoning behind this likely involves study of the gut-associated lymphoid tissues which boost immune response and are strengthened as a result of the microbes of the gut. The results of the experiment indicate that a more thorough study of the gut microbiome could result in medical implications that extend beyond the intestines. Another exciting implication of this experiment involves the humanitarian realm; yogurt or other probiotic supplements could be given to malaria patients, particularly in poverty-stricken countries, in order to lessen their suffering, which is less expensive and easier to accomplish than intense vaccine or antimicrobial treatments. The study of the gut microbiome and its relationship to parasite burden is significant for study both in scientific and humanitarian arenas.
Shasteen, Alivia M.; Lebeis, Sarah W.; and Schmidt, Nathan, "Lessening Malaria Parasite Burden with Yogurt" (2015). Microbiology Publications and Other Works.