Gene Map of Body’s Microbes Is New Health Tool
Researchers have produced the first comprehensive genetic map of the microbes that live in or on a healthy human body, laying the groundwork for possible new advances in research and in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The accomplishment—the result of a five-year, $173 million initiative called the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health—stems from an effort to better understand bacteria and other organisms that play a critical role in processes ranging from digestion to infection.
Scientists know the body harbors trillions of such microorganisms—indeed, they outnumber human cells 10 to 1. But until now, they didn’t know what the all bacteria were, where they were and how they might differ from person to person, or from site to site on a single body.