There is growing recognition that the microorganisms which live in and on us ― our microbiome ― are crucial to our health. Anything that disrupts the delicate balance in which we live with them could cause disease. But what about when medical intervention is the cause of this disruption? Here Dr Brenda Kwambana, a postdoctoral researcher the MRC Unit, The Gambia, tells us about her work investigating the microbiome and child health.
From the time when bacteria were first viewed under a microscope in the 17th century to today, microbiology has seen its fair share of paradigm shifts. From thinking that humans outnumbered microbes, and that all microbes were germs to be avoided and destroyed, we now know that they are an integral part of our biology.
It is staggering to think that there are an estimated 100 trillion bacterial cells in the human body, 10 times the number of human cells. Of more than 100,000 different species inhabiting the body, only a tiny fraction is known to cause disease in humans.
The term ‘human microbiome’ describes the microbial communities that colonise the human body and their genes. Microbes colonise most surfaces of the body including the skin and surfaces inside the body such as the gut and respiratory tract. Read more