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'Microbial Wildlife Managers'

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.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.