June 25, 2012

BioWorld

In Microbiome, Species Diversity Meets Functional Convergence

Human cells are a minority in their own body, outnumbered 10 to one by cells of the microbiome, commensal microorganisms. 'Ninety percent of the DNA that we're carrying around is bacterial,' Peter DiLaura told BioWorld Insight, with some viruses and fungi thrown in for good measure.

Influencing the microbiome has long been restricted to low-tech methods – think (maybe not at the same time) fecal transplants and probiotic yogurt. But public sequencing projects as well as private companies are making progress in gaining the sort of detailed view of the microbiome that eventually will allow its therapeutic manipulation.

In fact, recent findings 'may nicely explain why probiotics are having such a hard time making a dent' in health outcomes, Bernat Olle told BioWorld Insight.

In mid-June, the human microbiome project published more than a dozen papers in Nature and several of the PLoS journals that detailed findings from the sequencing of the microbiomes of 242 healthy human volunteers. Some highlights of those data were also presented at last week's annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. (See BioWorld Today, June 20, 2012.)

Full article can be viewed at www.BioWorld.com.