Some researchers say that an individual's microbial community can aid physicians in tailoring their efforts to treat illness, reports MIT's Technology Review. Microbiologist Rob Knight of the University of Colorado, whose lab has done extensive work on microbes' effect on weight, says there is evidence to suggest that microbes can be used as markers for individualized treatment. There is growing evidence to suggest that microbes play key roles in metabolism and obesity, and that changes in microbes are linked to diseases like ulcers and heart disease, according to Technology Review's Emily Singer. "Much of the early research using sequencing to study microbes has focused on cataloging the variability between the communities inhabiting different parts of the body, different people, and people with different diseases," Singer says. "But scientists are now starting to examine how specific interventions, such as diet or drugs, alter these communities." The hope is that clinicians can then develop diagnostic tests to predict a patient's response to drugs or even most effective diet options, Singer adds.
Using Bacteria to Personalize Medicine
May 06, 2010