Our intimate microbial friendsJun 18, 2012
What can the microbes residing in your nostrils or in the creases behind your ears tell scientists about human health and behavior? According to a recent study published by the Human Microbiome Project, it’s quite a lot. Samples swabbed from various body parts of over 200 men and women revealed unexpected findings. One is that no species of microbe is universally present in every individual – our microbial make-ups are evidently as unique as our genomes. The Human Microbiome Project hopes to characterize a typical “healthy” Western microbe, but is now also pursuing parallel investigations into the causes of this unexpected diversity.
According to Harvard biostatistician Curtis Huttenhower, “different bugs are performing the same jobs in different people, just like every city has bankers and lawyers and salesmen that make the city’s ecology tick.” The results, he says, will have implications and applications in the era of personalized medicine. “The human genome has taken a decade to be translated into clinical practice, and the same process is already beginning for the microbiome.”
Read the press release here.
Read more about the Human Microbiome Project in The Scientist.
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