DailyDirt: Fighting Biology With Biology
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
While most people have been taught to fear and loathe bacteria and other microscopic organisms (just watch some soap commercials), healthy people actually carry around more bacterial cells with them than their own human cells. It's estimated that there are ten times as many bacterial cells on a typical person than the number of cells that carry a person's own genetic code. About 100 trillion microscopic life forms usually live peacefully on (or in) our bodies, but the microbes that cause disease make us suspicious of all of them. In our battle to defeat the bad guys, though, we should be careful to limit the collateral damage. Here are just a few projects working on fighting "bad" bacteria without killing them all.
- Acne plagues millions of people, and its treatments aren't always effective -- so how about some anti-acne viruses to kill off the bacteria that cause these pimples? The key trick is killing off just those specific bacteria and not all the beneficial natural bacteria that live on everyone's skin. [url]
- A rare medical procedure, bacteriotherapy or fecal transplantation, attempts to restore a person's natural intestinal flora. Antibiotics can sometimes kill off too many microbes, making people sicker, and sometimes the solution is to re-create the right balance of microbes in a patient. [url]
- Synthetic biology could create bacteria that prevent cavities, solve lactose intolerance, provide vitamins, and do all sorts of beneficial things for us. Imagine eating a yogurt that would replace the bacteria in your mouth or digestive tract... (and then wait 28 days for the zombie apocalypse). [url]