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Thread: People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid

  1. #1
    Quote Originally Posted by wired.com
    Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking "superorganisms," highly complex conglomerations of human cells, bacteria, fungi and viruses.

    That's the view of scientists at Imperial College London who published a paper in Nature Biotechnology Oct. 6 describing how these microbes interact with the body. Understanding the workings of the superorganism, they say, is crucial to the development of personalized medicine and health care in the future because individuals can have very different responses to drugs, depending on their microbial fauna.

    The scientists concentrated on bacteria. More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too.

    Luckily for us, the bacteria are on the whole commensal, sharing our food but doing no real harm. (The word derives from the Latin meaning to share a table for dinner.) In fact, they are often beneficial: Our commensal bacteria protect us from potentially dangerous infections. They do this through close interaction with our immune systems.

    "We have known for some time that many diseases are influenced by a variety of factors, including both genetics and environment, but the concept of this superorganism could have a huge impact on our understanding of disease processes," said Jeremy Nicholson, a professor of biological chemistry at Imperial College and leader of the study. He believes the approach could apply to research on insulin-resistance, heart disease, some cancers and perhaps even some neurological diseases.

    Following the sequencing of the human genome, scientists quickly saw that the next step would be to show how human genes interact with environmental factors to influence the risk of developing disease, the aging process and drug action. But because environmental factors include the gene products of trillions of bacteria in the gut, they get very complex indeed. The information in the human genome itself, 3 billion base pairs long, does not help reduce the complexity.

    "The human genome provides only scant information. The discovery of how microbes in the gut can influence the body's responses to disease means that we now need more research into this area," said Nicholson. "Understanding these interactions will extend human biology and medicine well beyond the human genome and help elucidate novel types of gene-environment interactions, with this knowledge ultimately leading to new approaches to the treatment of disease."

    Nicholson's colleague, professor Ian Wilson from Astra Zeneca, believes the "human super-organism" concept "could have a huge impact on how we develop drugs, as individuals can have very different responses to drug metabolism and toxicity."

    "The microbes can influence things such as the pH levels in the gut and the immune response, all of which can have effects on the effectiveness of drugs," Wilson said.

    The Imperial College research demonstrates what many -- from X Files stalwarts to UFO fanatics -- have long claimed: We are not alone. Specifically, the human genome does not carry enough information on its own to determine key elements of our own biology.
    How cool is that, we're basically walking microbe hotels.



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  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
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    Should be plenty of micro-organisms there.
    .
    Political correctness is based on the principle that it's possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    Ænima's Avatar 2 in 1 BT Rep: +1
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    We aren't hybrids if we define ourselves as the genes within us and not the material that encapsulates (i.e. protects) them - which is what we (as geneticists) do. AFAICT I'm am not a human-bacterium hybrid. I'm a human with bacteria in me. You are right if you define a hybrid as a heterogeneous mixture, however --- I don't . This article to me is just another example of symbiosis.
    Quote Originally Posted by ilw View Post
    How cool is that, we're basically walking microbe hotels.
    We are basically mechanisms built to protect our genes. No more, no less --- basically. Read The Selfish Gene.
    Last edited by Ænima; 11-07-2007 at 02:27 AM. Reason: grammar

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilw View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wired.com
    Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking "superorganisms," highly complex conglomerations of human cells, bacteria, fungi and viruses.

    That's the view of scientists at Imperial College London who published a paper in Nature Biotechnology Oct. 6 describing how these microbes interact with the body. Understanding the workings of the superorganism, they say, is crucial to the development of personalized medicine and health care in the future because individuals can have very different responses to drugs, depending on their microbial fauna.

    The scientists concentrated on bacteria. More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too.

    Luckily for us, the bacteria are on the whole commensal, sharing our food but doing no real harm. (The word derives from the Latin meaning to share a table for dinner.) In fact, they are often beneficial: Our commensal bacteria protect us from potentially dangerous infections. They do this through close interaction with our immune systems.

    "We have known for some time that many diseases are influenced by a variety of factors, including both genetics and environment, but the concept of this superorganism could have a huge impact on our understanding of disease processes," said Jeremy Nicholson, a professor of biological chemistry at Imperial College and leader of the study. He believes the approach could apply to research on insulin-resistance, heart disease, some cancers and perhaps even some neurological diseases.

    Following the sequencing of the human genome, scientists quickly saw that the next step would be to show how human genes interact with environmental factors to influence the risk of developing disease, the aging process and drug action. But because environmental factors include the gene products of trillions of bacteria in the gut, they get very complex indeed. The information in the human genome itself, 3 billion base pairs long, does not help reduce the complexity.

    "The human genome provides only scant information. The discovery of how microbes in the gut can influence the body's responses to disease means that we now need more research into this area," said Nicholson. "Understanding these interactions will extend human biology and medicine well beyond the human genome and help elucidate novel types of gene-environment interactions, with this knowledge ultimately leading to new approaches to the treatment of disease."

    Nicholson's colleague, professor Ian Wilson from Astra Zeneca, believes the "human super-organism" concept "could have a huge impact on how we develop drugs, as individuals can have very different responses to drug metabolism and toxicity."

    "The microbes can influence things such as the pH levels in the gut and the immune response, all of which can have effects on the effectiveness of drugs," Wilson said.

    The Imperial College research demonstrates what many -- from X Files stalwarts to UFO fanatics -- have long claimed: We are not alone. Specifically, the human genome does not carry enough information on its own to determine key elements of our own biology.
    How cool is that, we're basically walking microbe hotels.



    .
    ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Microbe
    beauty is only skin deep

    erm...
    Quote Originally Posted by Helen Keller
    The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart.
    ...probably referring to her bowels, in this case...

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    JROQuinn's Avatar Rev. Maynard BT Rep: +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45BT Rep +45
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    ehhh we're filled with preservatives & other poisons forced in our food more than anything

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ænima View Post
    We aren't hybrids if we define ourselves as the genes within us and not the material that encapsulates (i.e. protects) them - which is what we (as geneticists) do. AFAICT I'm am not a human-bacterium hybrid. I'm a human with bacteria in me. You are right if you define a hybrid as a heterogeneous mixture, however --- I don't . This article to me is just another example of symbiosis.
    Quote Originally Posted by ilw View Post
    How cool is that, we're basically walking microbe hotels.
    We are basically mechanisms built to protect our genes. No more, no less --- basically. Read The Selfish Gene.
    I have a vague recollection that although our genes are not a hybrid our cells are and that mitrochondrial DNA is something quite different from our own DNA. It is the abilities of the two combined at a cellular level that enables us to be.
    Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum


  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
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    It is funny that they are saying this as if it is such big news, because it is not. We require bacteria for the digestion of lactose. This has been known for a long time. It is more of a case that scientists are finally looking at the bigger picture as apposed to the reductionist view that they have been taking for some time.

    This brings me to the point that one needs to be careful of the way that the media presents science, because they have a tendency to advertise it in a colorful way that is often misleading to the public.

    And if anyone reads The Selfish Gene--then you should also read The Blind Watchmaker, because that is a good book as well.
    Last edited by sidewild; 12-10-2007 at 11:45 AM. Reason: missed a word
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