Deficiency in a certain protein in the gastrointestinal tract has been shown to lead to both inflammation and abdominal fat accumulation in mice. The discovery provides yet another piece of the puzzle of how humans are affected — or not — by the large quantities of intestinal bacteria we carry with us. In the study from Sahlgrenska Academy, researchers have addressed the key role of the bacteria-binding protein ZG16 in protecting the body from intestinal bacteria. “The hope is that eventually, we’ll be able to administer this protein to improve protection against bacteria in patients with a defective barrier,” says Joakim Bergström, postdoctoral researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy. Joakim Bergström is in Professor Gunnar C. Hansson’s research group, which, eight years ago, was first to discover that there is a protective mucus layer in the intestine that separates intestinal bacteria from the intestinal surface.