Microbiome: the next frontier of medicine
The Human Microbiome Project provided the first glimpse of the microbial diversity of healthy humans and is exploring the possible relationships between particular human diseases and the microbiome
More than half of our body is not human. Only 43% of the cells that make up the human body are from our species. The rest are microscopic organisms that live in places like our skin or in large colonies that make up the intestinal flora. This is the microbiota, an enormous, very personal population, with such a unique composition that we believed it was written in the genes of each individual. However, a surprising study has just dismantled that belief and could bring about a medical revolution, because that microbial universe that we carry within us affects almost every aspect of our health, from allergies to mental illness, from body weight to cancer.
Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Israel have concluded that the genetics of the human host plays a very minor, almost residual, role in the composition of each microbiota. This means—in the words of Professor Eran Segal, one of the authors of this macro-study—that: “our microbiota could be a powerful way to improve health. We cannot change our genes but now we know that we can act on, and even remodel, the composition of different colonies of bacteria that are housed in our body.”