The living medicine inside us

Posted on January 25, 2024   by Microbiology Society

K. M. Salim Andalib is a recent graduate of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from Khulna University, Bangladesh. As a Research Assistant, his current work involves understanding the host-microbiome interactions. As a Society Champion, Andalib aspires to promote and share scientific knowledge and research on a global scale. Learn more about Andalib through his interview from 2020, back when he was an undergraduate student.

K.M. Salim in the lab
© K.M. Salim Andalib

Late into the night, when most of the world was wrapped in silence, I found myself immersed in the subtle symphony of our microbiology lab. The clock on the wall insisted it was time to rest, but I felt the nudge of a crucial experiment pressing on my tired shoulders. As I glanced around the seemingly empty lab, wondering if I was the only one burning the midnight oil, a realisation hit – I had the company of trillions of bacteria. Bacteria that inhabited my gut and some of which I was culturing on petri dishes.  

My research is a microbial adventure – revolving around these gut bacteria, these tiny heroes that keep us healthy. In essence, these good bacteria compete with other bad bacteria for access to the same nutrients in the gut – and if the good bacteria win, they could prevent health problems that can result from how the body metabolises food. Usually, the bacteria do this for their own benefit. My curiosity doesn't stop there, I am trying to trace their behaviour beyond the gut – not only bacteria but the chemicals they produce. Imagine these chemicals as messengers, travelling through our bloodstream like secret agents on a mission. These chemicals reach distant organs and hold promises of various health benefits. It is akin to having an internal team of health guardians, supporting the immune system, regulating inflammation and even impacting our mood. The gut–brain axis, a captivating communication highway, hints at a connection between these microscopic messengers and mental well-being. These revelations underscore that much is yet to be uncovered about how gut bacteria can impact health outcomes linked to human metabolism. 

So, here I am – not just cultivating bacteria in a petri dish but unravelling the secrets of their metabolic symphony. The potential applications are vast, propelling us into the era of live biologics, personalised medicine and innovative health approaches. These endeavours illuminate the path to next-generation therapeutics, unravelling the enigmas of complex diseases. As the clock ticks on, my journey into the microscopic universe continues. In the silence of the lab, surrounded by trillions of unseen allies, I navigate the intricate pathways of gut bacteria and their metabolites, seeking not just answers, but possibilities for a healthier and happier tomorrow. 

To find out more about Champions like Andalib, based all over the world, take a look at our Meet our Champions webpage