Penn State Hershey Medical Center home Penn State Hershey Medical Center home Penn State Hershey: Patient Care home Penn State Hershey: Education home Penn State Hershey: Research home Penn State Hershey: Community home
Penn State Hershey Health Information Library
  Library Home
  Find A Physician
  Find A Practice
  Request An Appointment
  Search Clinical Studies
  Classes and Support Groups
  Ask A Health Librarian
  Subscribe to eNewsletters


Penn State Hershey Health Information Centers
  Bone and Joint
  Cancer
  Children
  Heart
  Men
  Neurology
  Pregnancy
  Seniors
  Women

        Follow Us

Can a 'Noah's Ark' of Microbes Save the World's Health?

THURSDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- To safeguard human health in the future, researchers envision creation of a "Noah's Ark" of beneficial human microbes.

The human microbiome includes trillions of microscopic organisms that live in and on our bodies, and benefit our health in a number of ways, according to the authors of the proposal.

But antibiotics, processed-food diets and other modern harms have led to a huge loss of microbial diversity and an accompanying rise in health problems, the researchers said.

"We're facing a growing global health crisis, which requires that we capture and preserve the diversity of the human microbiota while it still exists," said study lead author Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Scientists would need to gather these microbes from remote populations still unaffected by modern ills, the researchers said.

Currently, the gut flora of most Americans is half as diverse as that of hunter-gatherers in isolated villages in the Amazon, the research team noted. These microbes are essential to aid digestion, strengthen the immune system and protect against invading germs.

"Over a handful of generations, we have seen a staggering loss in microbial diversity linked with a worldwide spike in immune and other disorders," Dominguez-Bello said in a university news release.

Since the early 1900s, for example, there has been a significant increase in diseases and disorders such as obesity, asthma, allergies and autism. The study team said scientific evidence links this rise with disturbances to the microbiome early in life.

The loss of human microbiome diversity equals climate change in the risk it poses to humanity's future, according to Dominguez-Bello and her colleagues.

The researchers compared their proposal to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the world's largest collection of crop diversity. It was created in case of natural or human-made disasters.

The new report was published in the Oct. 4 issue of Science.

More information

The University of Utah has more on the human microbiome.



-- Robert Preidt



SOURCE: Rutgers University, news release, Oct. 4, 2018

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.