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Microbiome No Cure-all

The microbiome has been linked to a host of ailments, from ulcerative colitis to allergies, and efforts to harness the microbiome to correct these conditions are turning into a booming business, Mother Jones's Gabrielle Canon writes. But, she notes, the science may not be quite there.

"I do have some fear — we all do in the field — that the hype and the potential overpromise, and the idea that somehow this is going to be different — there is a terrific fear that it will all backfire," Lita Proctor, the head of the Human Microbiome Project at the National Institutes of Health, tells her.

Proctor adds that recent findings from the HMP indicate there may not be one healthy microbiome and that it may instead matter what the bacteria are doing rather than which bacteria is doing it. And so, Canon notes that some of the ideas based on early findings won't all be right.

"There is a certain pace at which things can happen and it is such a brand new area that there is a lot yet to be understood," Proctor says.