Guan Shou Ping, PhD; Brian Kennedy, PhD
Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore
The human gut consists of both good bacteria that provide nutrients from indigestible sources and bad bacteria, which could lead to inflammatory and various disease states. The number of bad bacteria, however, increases as we age, leading to chronic low-level inflammation and age-related diseases. Both probiotics and prebiotics have been widely used to increase good bacteria, but the effect on bad bacteria is minimal. Antibiotics while effective also kill other good bacteria and select for resistant bacterial strains. To overcome these limitations, we propose to develop “miobiotics”, a novel food supplement that could specifically reduce the factor that drives the selection for bad bacteria in the ageing gut. We propose that an increase of gut urea due to ageing kidneys will preferentially select for bad bacteria, which have an energy-efficient pathway to incorporate ammonium, which is a by-product of urea breakdown. Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) is a safe dietary constituent that could reduce gut ammonium levels, which is a good miobiotic candidate. Hence, we propose to study the effects AKG in lowering the number of bad bacteria in both preclinical and clinical settings. The development of miobiotics could potentially improve health and productivity in ageing populations.