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  1. #1
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    One Tenth Human...

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/loc...-59601992.html

    13/09/2009 1:00 AM

    WASHINGTON -- Scientists are beginning a large-scale effort to
    identify and analyze the vast majority of cells in or on your body
    that aren't of human origin.

    Only about 10 per cent of the trillions of cells that make up a person
    are truly human
    , researchers say. The other 90 per cent are bacteria,
    viruses and other microbes swarming in your gut and on your skin.


    "We really are a superorganism, " Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the
    University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said in an email. "From
    the moment we are born until we die, we live in a symbiotic
    relationship with our microbes."

    "At birth, babies emerge from a sterile environment into one that is
    laden with microbes," said Laurie Comstock, a microbiologist at
    Harvard Medical School in Boston. "The infant's intestines then
    rapidly become home to one of the densest populations of bacteria on
    Earth."

    Most of these microbes are harmless, researchers say. Many are
    necessary to life and health. A troublesome minority, however, can
    cause everything from teenage acne and obesity to autism and cancer.

    The National Institutes of Health has launched a $115-million,
    five-year project to identify, analyze and catalog hundreds of
    microbial species resident in or on the human body.

    Called the Human Microbiome Project, it's modelled after the Human
    Genome Project
    , which decoded most of the human genes in the 1990s.
    The first 35 microbiome research grants took effect this summer.

    "The composition of the complex microbial communities inhabiting the
    human body has a tremendous influence on human health and disease,"
    said Richard Gibbs, a leading human genome researcher at the Baylor
    College of Medicine in Houston. Gibbs received a grant to sequence the
    genes of 400 bacterial strains by 2011.

    The goal of the microbiome project, which is international in scope,
    is to identify which microbes are harmful and to figure out ways to
    prevent or treat diseases they cause.

    It's a bewildering task, because scientists estimate there are about
    1,000 different species of microbes living in the human gut and about
    as many more separate species on human skin.

    The microbes form tiny colonies of bacteria that settle in different
    areas of the body. Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at the University
    of Washington in St. Louis, likened them to "ecosystems, " similar to
    those that plants and animals form on islands on Earth.

    The most popular site for human skin microbes, surprisingly, is the
    forearm, which is home to 44 different microbial species, according to
    a recent study by Julia Segre, a microbiologist at the National Human
    Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. The most barren region is
    behind the ear, where only 15 species typically settle, she reported
    in the journal Science last May.

    "Hairy moist underarms lie a short distance from dry forearms, but
    these two niches are as ecologically dissimilar as rainforests are to
    deserts," Segre said.

    Different tribes of microbes are associated with different maladies.
    For example, bacteria associated with the skin disease psoriasis
    favour the outer elbow, Segre reported. Eczema bugs prefer the inner
    elbow.

    Microbes also vary between people. Matthias Tschoep, an obesity expert
    at the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine, identified 383
    microbial genes that differed significantly between pairs of obese and
    slender twins. Microbes in obese people harvest sugars and fats in the
    diet more efficiently than do others on slender people, he reported in
    Nature.

    "It is possible that drug targets or drug candidates for the treatment
    of obesity could be identified from the obesity-associated
    microbiome," Tschoep said.

    At the Conference on the Beneficial Effects of Microbes held in San
    Diego last fall, scientists described many ways in which microbes can
    be helpful -- even essential -- to humans.

    Bacteria in the gut make it possible to digest food, synthesize
    vitamins, remove toxins and develop the immune system after birth.

    One of the new human microbiome grants went to Robert Modlin, a
    dermatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, to study
    microbes lurking under the skin that cause 17 million Americans --
    including 80 per cent of those age 12 to 24 -- to suffer from acne.

    "Success may lead to the development of new, effective therapeutic
    strategies for treatment of acne," Modlin's grant announcement
    declared.
    Every Saint has a past, every sinner has a future..

  2. #2
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    Re: One Tenth Human...

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeah Well Fine Then View Post
    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/loc...-59601992.html

    13/09/2009 1:00 AM

    WASHINGTON -- Scientists are beginning a large-scale effort to
    identify and analyze the vast majority of cells in or on your body
    that aren't of human origin.

    Only about 10 per cent of the trillions of cells that make up a person
    are truly human
    , researchers say. The other 90 per cent are bacteria,
    viruses and other microbes swarming in your gut and on your skin.
    I have a "gut" feeling that the quote should read "...10 percent of the variety of the trillions of cells..." and that, whilst bacteria et al make up 90% of the variety of cells, "human" cells make up 90% of the mass.

  3. #3
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    Re: One Tenth Human...

    I read this article in our local paper.
    They didn't make that distinction between the number of cells and the volume, as you pointed out.

    Otherwise it would give weight loss a different perspective.
    "Wag more, bark less."
    .

  4. #4
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    Re: One Tenth Human...

    Quote Originally Posted by dr poormouth View Post
    I have a "gut" feeling that the quote should read "...10 percent of the variety of the trillions of cells..." and that, whilst bacteria et al make up 90% of the variety of cells, "human" cells make up 90% of the mass.
    I think they mean the number of cells. I'm pretty sure bacteria are much smaller than human cells, so even though they outnumber human cells 10 to 1, the individual cells are so much smaller that they make up a small percentage of the mass.

  5. #5
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    Lord_jag is offline I am God because I say I am. Prove me wrong. User Rank
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    Re: One Tenth Human...

    Quote Originally Posted by kazza View Post
    I think they mean the number of cells. I'm pretty sure bacteria are much smaller than human cells, so even though they outnumber human cells 10 to 1, the individual cells are so much smaller that they make up a small percentage of the mass.
    Well that's kind of misleading then isn't it? We shold be looking at total mass.

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