Understanding The Human Microbiome

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understanding the human microbiome

Our microbiome could hold the key to many things, from health to crime and beyond.

Harvard researchers collaborated with the Human Microbiome Project seeking for an understanding and baseline of the North American microbiome. The human microbiome are the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in us and on us.¹ The study published in Nature, indicates our microbiome is an integral component in the maintenance of health and the immune system. Most studies continue to focus on the gut, however more investigation is going into vaginal, oral, and skin microbial communities.

In an attempt to understand our health as it relates to microorganisms that live both inside and on us, researchers used 1,631 body samples to piece together how microbes located in your gut, on your skin, orally, and vaginally communicate with the cells of your body. The work suggests many core functions of the human microbiome reflect broadly distributed, globally essential metabolic processes, others are potentially indicative of microbial community adaptation to specific body sites or to the human host in general.

With belief that microbial health is vital at different points of the body, such as the gut or skin, there is opportunity for new standards of healthcare that could preserve good germs while deleting bad ones. We already know that many of these organisms have been linked to disease. In 2013, Ryan Jaslow reported for CBS that the microbiome is not only linked to gastrointestinal illnesses like colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, but also to ailments outside of the digestive system, such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

The microbiome plays a major role in the body’s immune system. Focus in the past has primarily been on the gut as the digestive system is one of the most important immune system organs in the body. More recently the skin has become a major topic of unknown world of the microbiome ready to explore.

Vice News on HBO frequently reports on microbiome studies. Reporting these millions of tiny organisms making up bacteria, viruses, and microscopic fungi in our guts and on our skin are more plentiful on our body than our own human cells.   

It is necessary to continue research and deepen the understanding of the personalized microbiome in human health. The human microbiome supports both health and contributions to disease. Further research may help us learn more about geographical locations and living conditions, how diet may play a role, and more.

In a Vice News October 2017 report, they take the microbiome to a new level, trying to understand how a the tiny organisms on your hands could be used to solve crimes. We each shed 38 million microbes every hour, and each of our microbial fingerprint is unique. What science is working will help revolutionize human biology and how we can treat disease without the use of antibiotics.

There is much to learn and study about our personalized microbiome.

Lead author for the Harvard study, Jason Lloyd-Price, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, expressed to Vice News, “There’s a lot to be interested in the human microbiome. These [microorganisms] are with you for life, and they impact you in numerous ways. We should be be very thankful that they’re there, and we should try to nurture them.”

Read more about the microbiome here. 

 

¹Source: Vice News

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