Posts Tagged ‘human microbiome project’

Repoopulating the Gut

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-13-2014

What is the difference between the following:

  • breast milk infants vs formula fed infants
  • vaginal birth vs caesarian section babies
  • farm boys vs city boys
  • Tribal infants vs American infants

If you answered the diversity of their microbiome you are correct. The first group of individuals exhibit much higher diversity in the population of their gut bacteria and tend to have less food allergies and asthma than the second group. Studies have shown that having a more diverse gut microbiome results in a more stable and resilient internal ecosystem.

One of the hottest topics in microbiology today is the makeup of the human microbiome. Scientists are beginning to show that proper microbiome health is important for overall individual health. In fact, a cutting edge treatment for antibiotic-induced diarrhea, (which is caused by antibiotics killing off gut flora), is fecal transplant from a healthy individual. Dr. Claire M. Fraser, founder of the field of microbial genomics has coined the term “repoopulation” which refers to the act of repopulating the gut with healthy microbes via a fecal transplant.

In the video below, Dr. Fraser discusses the microbiome and the importance that must be attributed to the field of microbial genomics.

The bacterial invasion

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 06-13-2012

Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. For the first time, a consortium of researchers organized by the National Institutes of Health has mapped the normal microbial make-up of healthy humans, producing numerous insights and even a few surprises.

Read more…

Fecal Pharma

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-13-2010

I just read a fascinating story by science writer Carl Zimmer published in Monday’s New York Times science section. In the article, Carl touches upon the work of Dr. Alexander Khoruts who performed a fecal transplantation, essentially injecting a stool sample from a healthy person into the colon of a patient with C. difficile, to help clear up the patient’s chronic diarrhea. Gene analysis pre and post transplantation revealed that the patient’s condition was exacerbated by a deficiency in her gut flora which was corrected with the injection of bacteria normally found in a healthy human colon.

Zimmer continues on to describe the complexity of the microbiome and the enormous challenge involved in deciphering what microbes are present in normal tissue and how their presence or absence affects various biological processes. Findings from the ongoing Human Microbiome Project have thus far revealed that there are tens of thousands of microbial genes to be found in our bodies which far outnumber the the approximately 20,000 protein-coding genes found in the human genome. One of the biggest challenges for scientists involves separating the microbial genes (some of which can only be detected with amplification techniques) from the human genes in order to properly characterize the microbial genome found in a particular organ.

With so many bacteria dictating the difference between normal and diseased human physiology, one has to wonder whether humans exist as individual beings or whether we are really just the sum of our microbiological parts! In fact, the language used throughout Zimmer’s article seems to imply that the human body can actually be broken down into various microbiological ecosystems populated by a multitude of varying bacteria. Talk about a multicultural society. If only humans could learn to live in such a mixed environment!

Anyhow, I am not a philosopher, (as you can clearly tell), but I am blown away by the microbiome project and I welcome anybody involved in this valiant effort to write in and tell us a bit about your experiences.