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100 Trillion Good Bacterias Are Living In Human Body: Report

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First Posted: Jun 14, 2012 08:35 AM EDT
Good bacteria along with prebiotic foods may help treat obesity and diabetes.

Good bacteria along with prebiotic foods may help treat obesity and diabetes. Credit:National Institute of Allergy

Do you think bacteria, fungi and other microbes are harmful for your body? Discard the thought right away as a recent research has mapped and revealed that 100 trillion good bacteria are living in and on human body at every point of time and are contributing to good health.

The report presented on Wednesday was the result of a five-year, $173 million-worth US government initiative called the Human Microbiome Project which attempted to better examine bacteria, fungi and organisms - while all human bodies harbor trillions of bacteria but what they really are, how they differ from one person's body to another, how they coexist in harmony, play a significant role in digestion, synthesizing certain vitamins, forming immunity against disease-causing bacteria and more.

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"Most of the time we live in harmony with them," said Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. But sometimes the harmony breaks down and we fall sick, cautioned Green.

The project, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, involved 200 scientists at 80 institutions and bacteria taken from 242 healthy people and samples were taken from mouth, nose, skin, intestine and vagina. Researchers studied the DNA-sequencing machines used to map DNA in the Human Genome Project.

"This gives us a reference set of genes and microbes from healthy individuals," said James Servalovic, director of the Texas Children's Microbiome Center at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the researchers.

"This is really a new vista in biology," said Phillip Tarr, director of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis and one of the leaders of the Human Microbiome Project.

With the accomplishment, new avenues to research genetic predisposition will be open, believe scientists.

"It's likely this work will lead to new treatments for [the inflammatory bowel disorder] Crohn's disease, new treatments for diabetes and metabolic diseases, new treatments for even other diseases, like eczema," said Michael Fischbach to Wall Street Journal, a biologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Fischbach, however, was not part of the project.

Going ahead, scientists will do similar research sampling microbiomes of children, elderly and also Africans and South Americans. Diseased people will also be studied to discover how microbes play in maintaining health or causing disease.

The findings are published by Nature and the Public Library of Science.

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