How's Your Microbiome?

Increasingly, awareness of a person's microbiome--the total population of bacteria that live within an individual, and their genetic material--has shaped how disease is approached. Not only are treatments that disrupt the microbiome beginning to be viewed as harmful, but also the idea that one's microbiome can be associated with specific conditions.

In the January issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, an excellent review article provides a concise summary of the role of the microbiome in clinical diseases including:

  • Clostridium difficile: probably the most paradigmatic example of microbiome alteration
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Obesity: a really fascinating phenomenon that will definitely be the focus of more research
  • Allergic Disease
  • Neuropsychiatric Diseases

The fact that in a human body the number of bacterial cells outnumber human cells (by a factor of 10) is impressive and will condition the current and future treatment of infectious diseases (as well as other illnesses).