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Laying a log

Weight loss, regularity and carbon-sink in one
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(+4, -3)
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I take is as axiomatic that the true purpose of medical science is to enable us to abuse our bodies and not suffer the consequences.

Exercise and diet are no fun whatsoever - there has clearly got to be a better way to avoid obsesity whilst being able to indulge in one's favourite foods ad nauseam.

One solution that has been tried is to replace fats with non-digestible equivalents, which pass through the gut without delivering their calories. Unfortunately, they pass through in pretty much the same form that they went in, with unpleasant results for the launderer of the household. It is also exceedingly difficult to produce, for example, a plausible replica of foie gras from these indigestible fats.

I propose an alternative. Take the humble E. coli and endow it with the ability to synthesize cellulose. Add a little more metabolic plumbing, and you should have gut bacteria which can snatch sugars and lipids from your gut and convert them directly into indigestible roughage before they can be absorbed.

A simple pill containing a starter colony of these bugs should populate your gut with an army of cellulose-generating, calorie- sapping allies. Within days, the pounds will start to fall away; within weeks, the most enthusiastic gourmand will find himself becoming more sylph-like despite his excesses.

You will appreciate, of course, that the details remain to be resolved. But this should be a relatively trivial problem.

MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 05 2007

H. pylori is culturable http://www.ncbi.nlm...35026&dopt=Abstract
[MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 07 2007]

...and transformable http://www.ncbi.nlm...72825&dopt=Abstract
[MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 07 2007]


       The problem is that the bacteria live downstream from where all the stuff is absorbed. There is not much remaining nutrient value (for us) in poop. Although, arguably, one could correct a diet deficient in B12 by cecotropy.
bungston, Feb 06 2007

       [bungston]: <pedant> cecotrophy </pedant>   

       [Maxwell]: //Exercise and diet are no fun whatsoever// Maybe you haven't found the right form of exercise yet?
pertinax, Feb 06 2007

       [bungston] Good point. Damn. But there ought to be some gut flora which live (or can be persuaded to live) a little higher up the gut, no? What about H. pylori?   

       [pertinax] If there were an enjoyable form of excercise, it would not be called exercise, just as an enjoyable diet is not usually called a diet.   

       Also <Pedant>caecotrophy<pedant>
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 06 2007

       <meta-pedant> Diphthongs are allowed to collapse to a single 'e' over time, as happened with Oeconomics. </meta-pedant>
pertinax, Feb 07 2007

       >>the true purpose of medical science is to enable us to abuse our bodies and not suffer the consequences<<   

       No it isn't.   

       >>Take the humble E. coli and endow it with the ability to synthesize cellulose.<<   

Murdoch, Feb 07 2007

       What about those annoying bacteria of the mouth that high tech dentists show you under the microscope to try and justify their fee, the ones that turn sugar into acid but get crushed by chewing gum (as I understand the science of the ad). Surely they could be coaxed into producing something other than acid. I wonder if you could make them produce chewing gum, that obviously wouldn't allow them to survive for long under natural selection.   

       Another bacterial candidate for modification could be the nasty flesh eating bacteria (can't remember the name but I'm sure it has "cock" in it somewhere). If they could persuaded to just consume fat and perhaps excrete melanin, the world would be full of lithe tanned beauties.
marklar, Feb 07 2007

       It's funny you should say that, because this idea has a lot of cock (and bull) in it.
Murdoch, Feb 07 2007

       As [MaxwellBuchanan] mentions, it's turned out that ulcers are caused by nasties living in the stomach. Let me google a bit.   

       "Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a spiral-shaped bacterium that is found in the gastric mucous layer or adherent to the epithelial lining of the stomach."   

       Good luck modifying that. It apparently can neutralize some acid, so you may be able to get it to prevent the food being digested in the stomach.
baconbrain, Feb 07 2007

       Just allow yourself to be colonized by a tapeworm.
Galbinus_Caeli, Feb 07 2007

       //metabolic plumbing// hah... So, are metabolic plumbers like their macroscopic counterparts? If so, this shouldn't be too hard. We might need some more beer in the cooler, though..
daseva, Feb 07 2007

       Metabolic plumbers crack
marklar, Feb 07 2007

       [Murdoch] // No it isn't. // Yes, it is.   

       //How?// Well, at a wild guess I would have said that a cellulose synthase gene would be a promising place to start. However, it turns out that there is complete pathway for cellulose synthesis in Acetobacter spp., comprising 4 genes (a cellulose synthase amongst them, of course) sitting in an operon only 10kb long. In other words, there is a more- or-less off the shelf bacterial genetic unit wired up and ready to go.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 07 2007

       [Baconbrain] //Good luck modifying that// H. pylori is culturable (link) and at least some strains can be transformed (ie, you can put foreign DNA into them; other link).   

       // so you may be able to get it to prevent the food being digested in the stomach// but that would be bad. You'll just be passing lots of stuff further down the intestinal tract, and I feel it in my bones that the consequences will be runny.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 07 2007

       [maklar] now, that is the kind of can-do attitude I admire. Gung that ho.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 07 2007

       No it isn't.   

       >>there is a more- or-less off the shelf bacterial genetic unit wired up and ready to go.<<   

       So someone else has already done it. Not really your idea, in that case, is it? ;)
Murdoch, Feb 08 2007

       Yes it is.   

       And I believe that the idea was to put the cellulose synthesis pathway into a regular intestinal microbe ;-)   

       We might want to test this out on something small and furry first. With a bit of luck, we will establish a new line of hamsters which crap sawdust, which would be handy. OK, very thin hamsters which crap sawdust.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 08 2007

       The ideal diet leaves you happier than when you started, without so much as a look at the scale or a thought for what you're putting into yourself.   

       As this Idea doesn't alter the aforementioned basic dietary principle.   +
reensure, Feb 11 2007


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