Monday, June 18, 2012

oops, they forgot the breastesses...,

kurzweilai | Some 200 members of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) Consortium from nearly 80 universities and scientific institutions, organized by the National Institutes of Health, have mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans, producing numerous insights and even a few surprises.

The report on on their five years of research was published Thusday June 14, 2012, in a series of coordinated scientific reports in Nature the PLoS.

Researchers found, for example, that nearly everyone routinely carries pathogens, microorganisms known to cause illnesses.

In healthy individuals, however, pathogens cause no disease; they simply coexist with their host and the rest of the human microbiome, the collection of all microorganisms living in the human body.

Researchers must now figure out why some pathogens turn deadly and under what conditions, likely revising current concepts of how microorganisms cause disease.

“Like 15th century explorers describing the outline of a new continent, HMP researchers employed a new technological strategy to define, for the first time, the normal microbial makeup of the human body,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

“HMP created a remarkable reference database by using genome sequencing techniques to detect microbes in healthy volunteers. This lays the foundation for accelerating infectious disease research previously impossible without this community resource.”

To define the normal human microbiome, HMP researchers sampled 242 healthy U.S. volunteers (129 male, 113 female), collecting tissues from 15 body sites in men and 18 body sites in women.

Researchers collected up to three samples from each volunteer at sites such as the mouth, nose, skin (two behind each ear and each inner elbow), and lower intestine (stool), and three vaginal sites in women; each body site can be inhabited by organisms as different as those in the Amazon Rainforest and the Sahara Desert.

Historically, doctors studied microorganisms in their patients by isolating pathogens and growing them in culture. This painstaking process typically identifies only a few microbial species, as they are hard to grow in the laboratory. In HMP, researchers purified all human and microbial DNA in each of more than 5,000 samples and analyzed them with DNA sequencing machines.

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