Danish researchers who examined the fecal matter of 647 healthy infants aged one-year-old have recently discovered roughly 10,000 distinct viruses in their stool, according to an international team of scientists who published their findings in the academic journal Nature Microbiology. The analysis, which was part of a long-term study into asthma and chronic inflammatory diseases, demonstrated that viral species in the children’s feces were ten times more prevalent than bacterial species. These viruses were primarily bacteriophages, which are known to attack bacteria, regulating their competitive abilities and balancing bacterial populations in the gut microbiome. The research team even decided to name the newly discovered viral families after 232 infants who participated in the study.

Shiraz Shah, the study’s first author and a senior researcher at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, stated that “Our hypothesis is that because the immune system has not yet learned to separate the wheat from the chaff at the age of one, an extraordinarily high species richness of gut viruses emerges, and is likely needed to protect against chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes later on in life.”

The research, which provides new insights into the infant gut microbiome and information on previously unknown viruses, could eventually lead to a better comprehension of immune system development and chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes. It is an intriguing development that could pave the way for the discovery of novel treatments and prevention measures.

Source: The Washington Post