Going with His Gut Bacteria; July 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Melinda Wenner; 2 Page(s)
Jeremy Nicholson was only trying to be thorough. It was 1981, and the young biochemist was using a technique
called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which can identify chemicals
based on the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei. In particular, Nicholson wanted to study how red blood cells absorb cadmium, a metal that causes cancer. Realizing that he would achieve the best results if he could mimic the cells¿ natural environment, he added
a few drops of blood to the cells and ran the test.
"Suddenly there was a huge variety of signals that we hadn¿t seen before¿there were these amazing sets of spectra coming out,¿ Nicholson
recalls. A sample of blood or urine contains thousands of metabolites¿signatures of all the chemical reactions occurring in the body at a given
time. If he could find a way to identify those chemical signatures
and their significance, he reasoned, he would be able not only to better understand different diseases¿based on chemical reactions that had gone awry¿but also to identify
early warning signs and potential interventions. That kind of science, he decided, was his kind of science.