Chimps may provide key to disease risk
A NEW study of our closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee, could unlock the risk of obesity and autism.
The University of Western Australia study will focus on the gut health of the primates, sending PhD student Natasha Coutts to Rwanda to research how the bacteria in chimps’ stomachs are impacted by habitat degradation.
Gut bacteria has an important role in digestion and aids the production of Vitamins B and K. It can also influence the risk of diseases such as obesity, Crohn’s disease, asthma and autism.
Ms Coutts said understanding the gut health of chimps could have implications on how we understand it in humans.
“Humans and chimpanzees are so closely related that it’s highly likely the results from this research will be applicable to questions surrounding the human gut microbiome (bacteria) as well,” she said.
Habitat fragmentation has been shown to decrease plant biodiversity The study will compare how this affects chimps’ gut bacteria.