Microbiome – the Second Genome
Rather then just human beings we are the home of many microorganisms. A befriended microbiologist once said that “if aliens would visit earth and liquified some humans to see what species we are, they would think we where all bacteria”. In fact only 10% of cells is human and in sheer number of genetic information, more than 99% of the genes we bear are microbial (less than 1% is human). The bacteria that call your body home, several hundreds of species, numbering around 1000 trillion are right now living, replicating and even dying on the surface of your skin, on your tongue and even inside your intestines.
This microbiome is like a second genome, although not fully understood, it is commonly believed that it influences our health and wellbeing. Possibly this influence is as great or even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. An interesting idea and great opportunity, since the inherited genes are difficult to influence it may be possible to redesign our second genome.
“the human body is an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants” (ref: the Sonnenburg Lab; department of microbiology and immunology Stanford University). A new view at the human body. Disorders of the microbial ecosystem such as the ‘wrong’ inhabitants or a lack of diversity may be involved in a whole range of chronic diseases including obesity. Several studies have demonstrated that transferring the microbiota of a healthy person into a sick persons gut (a so-called ‘fecal transplant’) can significantly improve health and well-being of a person (ref. 1-7).
- Bennet JD, Brinkman M. Treatment of ulcerative colitis by implantation of normal colonic flora. Lancet 1989; 1: 164
- Borody T, Warren E, Leis S, Surace R, Ashman O. Treatment of ulcerative colitis using fecal bacteriotherapy. J Clin Gastroenterol 2003; 37(1):42-47
- Khoruts A, Dicksved J, Jansson JK, et al. (2010). “Changes in the composition of the human fecal microbiome after bacteriotherapy for recurrent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea”. J Clin Gastroenterol44 (5): 354–360.
- Tvede M, Rask-Madsen J (1989). “Bacteriohterapy for chronic relapsing clostridium difficile diarrhoea in six patients”. Lancet 333 (8648): 1156–1160
- Bakken JS (Dec 2009). “Fecal bacteriotherapy for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection”. Anaerobe 15 (6): 285–289.
- Kelly CP. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation – An Old Therapy Comes of Age (16 Jan 2013). “Fecal Microbiota Transplantation — an Old Therapy Comes of Age”. N Engl J Med 368 (5)
- Brandt LJ, Borody TJ, Campbell J. Endoscopic fecal microbiota transplantation: “first-line” treatment for severe clostridium difficile infection? (Sep 2011). “Endoscopic Fecal Microbiota Transplantation”. J Clin Gastroenterol 45 (8): 655–657.