More than a dozen studies on the human microbiome were published last week by groups across the US participating in the Human Microbiome Project. Now, researchers are taking that information and using it as part of a new approach to health called "medical ecology," says Carl Zimmer at The New York Times. "Rather than conducting indiscriminate slaughter [with antibiotics], [National Human Genome Research Institute senior investigator Julie] Segre and like-minded scientists want to be microbial wildlife managers," Zimmer says. This involves changing the body's microbial ecosystem — nurturing the beneficial bacteria while weeding out the bacteria associated with disorders like obesity and diabetes. Studies like those recently published by the HMP go a long way toward bolstering this idea of medical ecology and helping researchers figure out how to do it, Zimmer adds. Further, this kind of research could help clinicians not only maintain healthy microbiomes, but also restore damaged ones destroyed by an overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
'Microbial Wildlife Managers'
Jun 19, 2012