Gut bacteria to treat depression and anxiety

CSIC researchers have patented a gut bacteria called Christensenella minuta that has therapeutic applications to treat mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This technology has been developed by a team at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), and has has already been licensed to LNC Therapeutics, a French biotechnology company specialized in research and development of drugs in the area of ​​the intestinal microbiome.

Many studies suggest that the intestinal microbiota is involved in the regulation of this axis brain-gut. Image: Pixabay.Scientific research on the two-way communication system using what is known as the ‘gut-brain axis’ is a growing field of research. The gut has been shown to affect the brain, and vice versa, through immune, endocrine, and neural pathways," says Yolanda Sanz, a CSIC scientist at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC). Sanz leads the team that has developed the technology.

"Many studies suggest that the intestinal microbiota is involved in the regulation of this axis and could play an essential role in brain disorders, such as neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, including mood disorders. This evidence offers new and promising therapeutic approaches for improving mental health,” adds Sanz.

Christensenellaceae family of bacteria are relevant components of the gut microbiota of healthy individuals and could be an important source of innovative treatments. “Its use is being explored for the treatment of chronic diseases, such as obesity and its metabolic co morbidities and, as a novelty in this case, for the treatment of mood disorders,” Sanz points out.

On one hand, the agreement with LNC Therapeutics will allow this company to carry on with the research, as well as manufacturing and marketing worldwide the developed treatment for disorders such as depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, Sanz says, “the alliance with LNC Therapeutics will allow us to accelerate the research to discover the mechanisms that makes Christensenella bacteria to have antidepressant and anxiolytic effects by endocrine and neural pathways.”

This patent is an outcome of the European project MyNewGut, coordinated by Dr. Sanz. Several scientists from the IATA-CSIC have participated in this project; among them is Ana Agustí, whose contribution has been essential in the development of the patent.

MyNewGut project has generated a biobank of human intestinal bacteria. It is a valuable biological material that they are exploring for its potential application to treat other diseases, such as obesity and its metabolic complications (such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes). These findings could be relevant in the future of nutrition and clinical practice.