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The Effect of Internal Bacteria On the Human Body

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the billions-of-allies dept.

Medicine 227

meckdevil writes with this excerpt from the Miller-McCune magazine: "In a series of recent findings, researchers describe bacteria that communicate in sophisticated ways, take concerted action, influence human physiology, alter human thinking, bioengineer the environment and control their own evolution. ... The abilities of bacteria are interesting to understand in their own right, and knowing how bacteria function in the biosphere may lead to new sources of energy or ways to degrade toxic chemicals, for example. But emerging evidence on the role of bacteria in human physiology brings the wonder and promise — and the hazards of misunderstanding them — up close and personal. ... Because in a very real sense, bacteria are us. Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society: metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease. Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body. If further evidence bears this out, medicine is about to undergo a profound paradigm shift, and medical treatment could regularly involve kindness to microbes."

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227 comments

the real overlords (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941774)

the real overlords

Re:the real overlords (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941828)

i will overthrow them with my army of niggers

Re:the real overlords (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941870)

I bet that the two above ACs are both the same idiot.

Re:the real overlords (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941968)

YOU FUCKING FAGGOT RETARD. I made one of those posts and neither of the others. Stop pretending you are a mod, or actually know shit about anything. You are such a fucking idiot. I love it when stupid faggot little dipshits with tiny dinks like you do those "Same person" line-ups and are totally wrong. Suck my big hairy cock you pathetic know-nothing little queer bait. I'll make you wear a fucking dress. What a stupid fag you are. hard to believe. Fag.

Re:the real overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942574)

I bet that the 5 above ACs are all the same idiot.

Re:the real overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942600)

You calling the OP a faggot, but then offering to put him in a dress and have him suck you off? What's that phrase about pots and kettles again?

Midichloreans! (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33941778)

Your sad devotion to that ancient religion...

Re:Midichloreans! (5, Funny)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33941802)

So the best way to neutralise Darth Vader would have been a jolly good dose of antibiotics and instructions to wash his hands thoroughly before every meal?

Re:Midichloreans! (3, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942420)

No, the antibiotics would just mean Darth Vader would catch autism, which would have questionable effects on his evilness. Bacteria has nothing to do with it- the problem obviously lies with his thetans (so pay up!).

Re:Midichloreans! (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942866)

So the best way to neutralise Darth Vader would have been a jolly good dose of antibiotics and instructions to wash his hands thoroughly before every meal?

I think that would have been a bit anticlimactic.

Luke: "Father, I've come to give you... PENICILLIN!! Uh... oh...I guess it's a suppository, you take every day for a week."
Vader: "Going to force choke you right now"
Luke: "That would be a lot less awkward, thanks."

Probably shouldn't give Lucas any new ideas.

10x (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33941918)

there are at least 10 times as many bacterial cells as "human" cells in our bodies and you can run many different bacteria on a human. So one might consider oneself bacteria and the body just a vehicle for your bacteria. Except for Bill O'reily. Bateria refuse to grow in him.

Re:10x (1)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942060)

omg, That just made the thought of sex very unattractive...

- Dan.

Re:10x (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942190)

Duh, you're mostly bacteria. Go off in a corner and bud one out. You don't need to recombine genes when the ones you already got are perfect.

Re:10x (0, Offtopic)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942264)

Actually, the article makes me wonder if a threesome involving anal sex could now be considered a medical procedure. Its not unsafe sex, its a colon bacteria transplant!

Re:10x (0, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942480)

Why a threesome? Two-three men so they can fuck each other in the ass redistributing the bacteria or what do you mean?

I can understand it's hard to move them to the colon using your own penis (for some of us at least ..), an alternative solution would had been to simply use the finger.

Re:10x (0, Troll)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942670)

This makes me wonder if HIV / Aids isn't the result of a "Tummy Bug" Since that's the only place that anti-retrovirus drugs can't completely wipe out?

- Dan.

Re:10x (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942888)

There are cases where antibiotics have killed off friendly bacteria and unfriendly types become a problem.
In the case of Pseudomembranous colitis [wikipedia.org]
one effective treatment amounts to a poop transplant [wikipedia.org] . No joke!

Re:Midichloreans! (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942184)

Man all the sudden Ray Ozzie has all this free time on his hands to post on Slashdot!

But (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942302)

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

Or, more concretely, these out-of-kilter things (metabolism, cardiovascular processes, defense against disease) wouldn't be so out-of-kilter if people hit the gym regularly, ate a balanced diet of fresh food, and went easy on the antibiotics.

Or is that already the essence of this new medical enlightenment?

Re:But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942476)

Or, more concretely, these out-of-kilter things (metabolism, cardiovascular processes, defense against disease) wouldn't be so out-of-kilter if people hit the gym regularly, ate a balanced diet of fresh food, and went easy on the antibiotics.

Talk about hokey religions... I can't be the only one who's sick of this new age faith in "if I just eat the perfect diet and do yoga, I'll live forever!"

Yes you can lower your risk factors, but heart disease and cancer still kill thousands of vegetarians every year.

Greg Bear wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941800)

Re:Greg Bear wins (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942322)

How does that score MINUS ONE?

Life imitates art.

Also, if you've not read it yet, then read it now - great story *and* relevant to todays news.

Re:Greg Bear wins (1)

mibe (1778804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942494)

Actually, I thought instead of Blood Music, with its "thinking cells" when I read this article (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Blood_Music).

Bacteria - real life nanobots (2, Interesting)

hpa (7948) | more than 3 years ago | (#33941834)

Some are good, some are bad, but they're definitely always with us. Being able to control and shape them would definitely be beneficial.

Re:Bacteria - real life nanobots (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33941878)

nevermind even knowing which, why, how.
Imagine the magic be thin pill: a daily capsule of select bacteria, little to no side effects.

Re:Bacteria - real life nanobots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941992)

yea all you have to do is eat that pill and nothing else. you'll see great results.

Re:Bacteria - real life nanobots (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942012)

nevermind even knowing which, why, how.
Imagine the magic be thin pill: a daily capsule of select bacteria, little to no side effects.

Or, as discussed in the article, a fecal transplant...

Some researchers are even exploring the idea of stool transplants — that is, introducing a healthy person’s gut bacteria into a sick person’s intestines via the donor’s feces. Although there are not many peer-reviewed studies of this rather disturbing concept, a review in the July 2004 Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology by Australian researcher Thomas Borody found that in a large majority of the cases reported in the medical literature, fecal transplants resulted in almost immediate and long-lasting relief for people suffering from inflammatory bowel conditions and for those with chronic antibiotic-induced diarrhea. (There’s definitely a market for fecal transplants. When one scientist mentioned the success of the procedure in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he was inundated with calls from desperate patients begging for the treatment, even though he does not practice the therapy.)

Re:Bacteria - real life nanobots (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942070)

Heh. Unless it spends too much time on the shelf or something. And then....

You have died of dysentery.

More seriously though, I've had dysentery in a 3rd world country. It sucks. A lot. It is entirely possible to starve while eating enough food. I look forward to when someone has a pill that can fix that over night.

Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941836)

I for one (sigh) welcome our new microbe overlords...

two words... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941840)

fecal transplant Yes, it's real. Every newborn, obese person, and antibiotic-treated person should get one. They put it in both ends. Yummy!

Re:two words... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942496)

I've actually wondered about this while using antibiotics before. Seems weird and stupid.

Did anyone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941908)

DAE read the full summary, and then immediately look to see if it was submitted by KDawson?

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Different bacteria in different parts of the world (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941934)

Wild (and almost certainly wrong) speculation here ...

But, anyway, one often experiences intestinal upheaval when travelling in other parts of the world. I tend to imagine that the new foreign bacteria are engaged in an epic battle with the original bacteria for supremacy (e.g. of the colon).

But what if different bacteria release different hormones and chemicals. Is there any chance that the bacteria that is prevalent in one part of the world nudge people in that part of the world to act in certain ways?

For example, what if a particular type of bacteria secreted hormones to make people feel hungry? Could that be a partial explanation of why people in certain parts of the world are heavier than in other parts. Realistically, probably not - but it would be pretty funny if the real reason Americans are overweight is because of the sub-species of bacteria prevalent in the USA.

And ulcers did eventually turn out to have a bacterial origin - so you just never know.

Re:Different bacteria in different parts of the wo (5, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942172)

The real reason Americans are overweight is because they have been convinced to switch to a primarily sugar diet, and when that leads to being fat, they are told that they should starve themselves, try to make up for the effects of starvation with muscle building exercise, and eat an even higher ratio of sugar to other foods. This has been a vicious circle of ever worse diet since sometime around the early seventies when someone had the brilliant idea that since sugar has less calories for it's mass than fat, people will take in less calories and be thinner if they just eat sugar.

Re:Different bacteria in different parts of the wo (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33943038)

Yeah it has nothing to do with all the fat that's consumed, because it's so much easier for the body to turn sugar into fat than to turn fat into fat. (sarcasm) Sugar intake is not the single scapegoat.

Re:Different bacteria in different parts of the wo (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942194)

To add to your (almost certainly wrong) speculation, here's a couple of 'what-ifs':

That disease that (some claim) makes people hoard cats [wikipedia.org] , and a short story [wikipedia.org] by David Brin about a disease that makes people want to give blood, thus spreading the disease.

Re:Different bacteria in different parts of the wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942224)

Wild (and almost certainly wrong) speculation here ...

Yup, that's the best kind.

But what if different bacteria release different hormones and chemicals.

Gut bacteria that secrete human hormones would be really bad. I'm pretty sure they'd have terrible health consequences.
My understanding is, bacteria secrete their waste just like our cells do. Anything more elaborate than waste would only be released by the bacteria's cell wall breaking.

Re:Different bacteria in different parts of the wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942516)

it would be pretty funny if the real reason Americans are overweight is because of the sub-species of bacteria prevalent in the USA.

I no longer have to use the "I'm just big boned excuse." ?

no bacteria == stupid? (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942654)

Maybe MS (the other one) are making people stupid with their anti-biotics. It would explain a lot - like everything since FDR or there about.

Anthropomorphic bacteria (5, Informative)

mibe (1778804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33941950)

I know it's a bit of nit-picking in an otherwise fascinating and informative article, but this bit about bacteria directing their own evolution is quite unfounded and - I suspect - added to sensationalize a teeny bit.

Bacteria do engage in horizontal gene transfer, and so can shape their own genomes beyond relying on random mutation (which is perfectly reasonable and expected, given that us dumb eukaryotes have even figured out how to do that part pretty well). However, to suggest that the bacteria are making "intentional changes to their heritable scaffolding" with some kind of intelligence is anthropomorphizing a little overmuch, especially with this part: "To suggest that organisms as primitive as bacteria are capable of controlling their own evolution is obviously silly. Isn’t it?" Yes, bacteria can share genetic material and yes, some bits of material (plasmids!) seem developed almost explicitly to do this, but evidence of "intentions" or "control" behind their evolutionary direction is lacking. Bacteria share genes; the ones who pick up successful (eg, antibiotic resistance) genes survive and proliferate. Natural selection favors mobility of these situationally beneficial genes (and, one must note, only when they are beneficial; they otherwise drop rather rapidly out of the population) and the bacteria who harbor them, just like every other living thing on the planet.

Final note: no serious tree of life puts humans at the "apex." To do so is to misunderstand evolutionary theory: we are just as "evolved" as every other extant life form.

Sincerely,

A Pedantic Biologist

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942116)

I'd call out this article for more than nit picking. Aside from your point where he conflates evolution, TFA is rife with sweepingly broad statements. Just because some bacteria secrete serotonin doesn't mean that they can make people happy. Further:

Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society: metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease. Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body. If further evidence bears this out, medicine is about to undergo a profound paradigm shift, and medical treatment could regularly involve kindness to microbes.

The first sentence is a bit hyperbolic. The second sentence is completely over the top and not at all supported by anything other than the author's enthusiasm. The third sentence reads like something from an old time chiropractic tome.

We'll see about the 'paradigm' shift. If this sort of thing were really as important as he makes it out, antibiotics would likely kill you routinely.

Yes, we will find some nutrient / immunomodulation functions that we are unaware of when we study the bugs more closely but I rather doubt you will be singing lullabies to your little colonic friends in hopes of their helping you get through the weekday better.

Command Line Prompt (1)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942576)

Write RO1 proposing formulation of gut flora's effect on disease x.

Get grad students to torture nude mice.

Measure 10% effect

Profit.

Write RO1...increment formulation repeat

   

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (4, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942656)

I'd call out this article for more than nit picking. Aside from your point where he conflates evolution, TFA is rife with sweepingly broad statements. Just because some bacteria secrete serotonin doesn't mean that they can make people happy.

Right, it's because some bacteria excrete ethanol that they make people happy.

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (1)

solweil (1168955) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942846)

If true, would antibiotics really necessarily kill us routinely, or would the effect maybe be more subtle, like limiting us to around a hundred years?

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942156)

Great post and a sorely needed injection of reality into the debate created by a sensationalist and often fantastical article.

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942294)

IANAPB, so correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't the entire concept of being "more evolved" a bit...fuzzy? It's not as if there is a standard, objective metric related to evolution. Like the number of genes, or the complexity of our chromosomes ( don't mind me, I just like making it sound good ). In fact, evolutionarily speaking, are there some cases where the "simpler" organism has an evolutionary edge of the more complex organism strictly because of that simplicity?

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942396)

Perhaps it is pedantry, or perhaps your signature makes that relevant - but doesn't any life form that integrates external genetic material into its own reproductive process (like sexual reproduction) making "intentional changes to their heritable scaffolding"?

I don't know if these bacteria do that, but it seems that - while I agree with your point that anthropomorphizing evolution is silly - simply selecting a mating partner, or choosing this glob of genetic material over that one, is in actuality CONTROLLING evolution in a small but very real way at the individual level.

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (1)

mibe (1778804) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942460)

I was mostly taking issue because the article seems to be ascribing some intent or intelligence over the choices that the bacteria are making, as though they look around at one another and exclaim, "I do say, we appear to be dying from this dose of ampicillin! Does anyone have an appropriate resistance gene on his plasmid?" When in actuality they will respond to stress by gobbling up whatever bits of DNA (either by conjugation with other cells or uptake from the environment) they can find, a strategy that is desperate but pays off for some - who then survive and proliferate with their new resistance genes.

Even not choosing is a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942468)

You are controlling evolution every moment you keep living, and also when you stop doing that.

Re:Anthropomorphic bacteria (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942500)

Thanks, I was thinking the same thing, and hoping someone else had already pointed it out!

I also loved the fact that bacteria are now "bioengineering". As an engineer with a biology degree, I'm still clinging to the hope that bioengineering might involve a bit more conscious design than making me pay for that 3 bean chili...

So mine are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33941984)

fucking badass? Seriously? THAT'S AWESOME!

medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shift (1, Funny)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942022)

Umm, no its not. I've followed alternative medicine and alternative treatments for years. They can do a (real scientific) study for a certain cancer treatment and have astonishing results, but if you get cancer and go to the doctor, your treatment will be...radiation or chemo.

Research may be about to undergo a paradigm shift, but new, actual treatments, seem to run many years behind, if they see the light of day at all.

And no kidding, what they have just discovered, people in alternative medicine have known for decades. And for being right, they got called quacks.

Need proof? Read Enzyme Nutrition, by Dr. Edward Howell:

Dr. Howell is often called the "father of food enzymes." During the '30's and'40's of this century, he did incredible research to prove that food enzymes were an essential nutrient, and that cooking and processing of foods destroy them, thereby creating dramatic changes in our ability to digest food and remain healthy. This is a classic in the field.

> They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society

Antibiotics kill off all the bacteria, good and bad. Cooking and over processing kill off natural enzymes that would help digest the food.

The answers are all there, and have been there.

Gut Bacteria Causes Weight Gain (2, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942094)

Gut Bacteria Causes Weight Gain

http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/News-gut-bacteria-causes-weight-gain-111209.aspx?xmlmenuid=51 [laboratoryequipment.com]

laboratoryequipment.com — Switching from a low-fat, plant-based diet to one high in fat and sugar alters the collection of microbes living in the gut in less than a day, with obesity-linked microbes suddenly thriving, according to new research at Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis. The study was based on transplants of human intestinal microbes into germ-free mice.

        Further, by sequencing the microbial DNA, the researchers determined that mice on the high-fat, high-sugar diet had a greater representation of microbial genes devoted to breaking down and processing simple sugars and other components of a western diet. They also showed these genes were activated in the mice eating the unhealthy diet.

        Interestingly, when the researchers transplanted the gut microbial communities of humanized obese mice to germ-free mice, the recipient mice gained weight and fat, even though they ate a low-fat, plant-based diet. The researchers also showed that gut microbes and their genes can be passed on from generation to generation, suggesting that it is possible for mothers to pass their microbial communities to their children.

Re:Gut Bacteria Causes Weight Gain (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942306)

A recent commercial said: When John Wayne died, he had 52 pounds of undigested fecal matter in his system.

Is nothing sacred?

Re:medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942126)

Link to real scientific (peer reviewed if you please) study please.

Re:medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shi (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942146)

Chemicals are better: bad bacteria can be killed off by antibiotics, and good ones can be replaced by administration of appropriate enzymes etc. If you have trouble, say, killing off some of the bacteria, that just means your chemicals aren't good enough yet. With your world view, we have to be at the mercy of the bacteria and play by their rules. I do not accept that.

Re:medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shi (5, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942186)

Research may be about to undergo a paradigm shift, but new, actual treatments, seem to run many years behind, if they see the light of day at all.

I'll grant you this point, but it's probably for the better. Would you rather new treatments were rushed to market without real science to back them, and let patients discover the side effects for themselves?

Need proof? Read Enzyme Nutrition, by Dr. Edward Howell:

No thanks. Howell's theories are outdated [beyondveg.com] and largely unsupported by modern food science.

Antibiotics kill off all the bacteria, good and bad.

This is a popular fallacy, but not all antibiotics are effective on all forms of bacteria -- as anyone who has had to get a prescription for antibiotics from a doctor knows. Doctors choose the antibiotics to use based on the family of bacteria they want to destroy.

Cooking and over processing kill off natural enzymes that would help digest the food.

That might be true, but enzymes are best understood as catalysts for digestion, not essential parts of the process. They can help speed digestion, but their lack won't prevent it. Your stomach is full of hydrochloric acid -- that's going to break down most any food you throw in there. In addition, digestive enzymes don't have to come from food; they are secreted by the salivary glands, the stomach, the pancreas, and glands in the intestines. What's more, there are other ways to make nutrients from food more accessible, and one of them is cooking -- something humans have done to their food since the dawn of human history. The idea that humans should stamp out the fire and go back to eating raw vegetables now is pretty silly, and is based more on modern reactionary vegan movements than on science.

Re:medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shi (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942218)

Denature, actually. Nothing kills enzymes, as they're not alive.

Re:medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942368)

High energy can break the peptide bonds resulting in fragments that will never spontaneously reform. Thus "killing" is a reasonable term for destruction.

Re:medicine about to undergo profound paradigm shi (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942416)

There are so many "alternative medicine" theories that whenever science finds proof for anything, some quack can point to vague assertions made years ago that seem true on the surface. Of course, when probed in depth, it usually becomes clear that there are as many wrong assertions as right. The proof, as always, is in the experiment. When you do the experiments and find truth, you get the credit as you should. When you make wild claims based on anecdotes then you get ignored.

Of course, any decent scientist or physician will also realize that using terms like proof and truth are covering up the way science actually works, but I'm using the colloquial meanings here. If you're using a treatment that hasn't undergone an experiment, you're probably doing more damage than benefit.

models (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942044)

In the 1800s, the world was focused on machinery: the industrial revolution. And when we looked at the human being, we saw a machine. Illness was a mechanical malfunction: fix it with surgery or other manual therapies -- massage and chiropractic also get going around this time. (Not an endorsement of chiropractic, just pointing out its the "the machine's out of whack!" ideology.)

In the 1900, the world became focused on chemistry -- it had little choice, as WWI, "the chemists war", forced awareness of it, and then we became aware of the pollution we were creating. "Mustard gas" and "DDT" became by-words. And when we looked at the human being, we saw a chemical reaction. Illness if a chemical imbalance: drugs! drugs! drugs! From antibiotics to antidepressants, drugs became the therapy of choice.

In the late 1900s and early 2000s, we've become focused on ecology. And now when we look at the human being, we start to see an ecology.

It's an interesting phenomenon, the way that how we see the world influences how we see ourselves. Classical Chinese medicine is based on a model of canals carrying nutrition between palaces and granaries -- the structure of the Chin empire. The ancient Greeks saw the classic four elements making up the world, and -- oddly enough -- found that the human being was composed of four corresponding humors.

Re:models (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942540)

People don't understand that the human body is not like a truck. It's a series of tubes. Why, just yesterday I ate vast amounts of donuts, and they didn't come out until 2:30 this afternoon. Why? Because they got tangled up. The tubes were too full. You can't just put enormous amounts of donuts into the tubes and expect them not to get delayed.

Re:models (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942720)

So when do we become focused on looking at human beings as information processors?

This means giving up (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942072)

This article is a huge disappointment for me. We're giving up--this is what the article is advocating--at least from a pessimist's view (that is, mine). The basic argument I see presented is that--if we can't defeat them--let's work with them, even if they can be dangerous. The various examples given, say of C. difficile being mostly benign until it is stressed by changes in host physiology due to stress/surgery/etc. can be restated as follows "we ought to work by their rules because it is too difficult otherwise". If I were a troll I'd make an analogy with a Western government negotiating with the Taliban... The author and those whose opinion he builds are at best unprincipled pragmatists, and at worst cowards that betray the early great crusades of medicine such as Fleming's discovery of penicillin. I think that humanity ought to have as great a vision in medicine as in other endeavours such as space travel, and I offer my version of it: the eradication of all even potentially pathogenic bacteria living in the human host and continued guard against them by perpetual administration of new antibiotics and/or (possibly genetic) immunomodulation. We are nowhere near being able to pull of something like this and keep a person completely free of all bacterial life, but I see no theoretical barrier to achieving this in the future, especially with predicted advances in nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and so on. Bacteria can be very useful, but at the same time that is no reason to ignore that they also kill people and cause enormous amount of human suffering even in non-fatal attacks on their hosts. Is this really an acceptable compromise? Ask yourselves.

Re:This means giving up (3, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33943018)

the eradication of all even potentially pathogenic bacteria living in the human host

You would die. You would completely keel over and be an ex-parrot.

You rely on bacteria just to get through the day, and *all* are potentially pathogenic. There is e. coli that lives in your gut happily digesting food and helping give you vitamin B, and then there is e. coli that can kill you dead via food poisoning. It only takes a few gene swaps to make one the other, and bacteria do this all the time on their own.

Ask myself? I did. I answered "he's a nut."

--
BMO

Re:This means giving up (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33943042)

Ask myself? I did. I answered "he's a nut."
Either that or IHBT.

--
BMO

Our Host object wants to post to this thread (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942100)

(2.6)10**8 of us think this effort should be stopped. However (4.3)*10**9 of us think it should be permitted as a harmless biological release for Host object. Of this second group, (8.4)*10**6 think we should cause Host to make a fool of himself so he will not be tempted to act again in this manner. However, the majority of the second group favors directing the Host to post as AC so this release mechanism will remain available for future situations in which Host suffers suboptimal adaptation to the Host macro environment regarding reproduction, individual status, and acquisition of food.

- 4FK00BAE3

In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942122)

In Soviet Russia, bacteria inhabit you.

^--Above is only funny because it's true.

---
Off topic: My captcha is micros. Oh but for the want of the letters b and e.

TB (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942178)

I've recently heard of a strain of TB being injected in the the stomach to battle stomach cancer that is already being done. The patient is male and I'll let you guess where they inject it through to get to his stomach. He has to leave it in for a certain amount of time and then urinate followed but a half a gallon of bleach down the toilet to render it dormant. Guy says it seems to be working and feels much better after then chemo.

Dust off those old medicine books, boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942240)

Imbalanced Humors [wikipedia.org] are finally back in style, yeehaw!

Distributed Computing: Human Microbiome Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942258)

The Human Proteome Folding project on IBM's Distributed Computing grid is about to crunch some data related to our internal bacteria:

http://homepages.nyu.edu/~rb133/wcg/thread_2010_10_10.html

Head to www.worldcommunitygrid.org to sign up and donate some electricity towards this project!

This is why fermented foods are healthy (4, Interesting)

John Saffran (1763678) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942332)

Part of the reason why fermented foods are so good for you is that bacteria have heavy involvement. These are different bacteria to those in the gut, but the bacterial processes involved in fermentation lead to additional benefits greater than what the ingredients alone probide. For example kimchi has been found to produce intermediate compounds that are then used by the body to produce anti-fungal and anti-microbial compounds

Kimchi, a traditional Korean food, is a well-known lactic acid-fermented vegetable product, and is a good source of industrially useful lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The microorganisms involved in the fermentation of kimchi include approximately 200 species of bacteria and several yeasts. The LAB involved in this fermentation continuously produce organic acids after an optimum ripening time, and cause changes in the composition of the product, referred to as the over-ripening or acid deterioration of kimchi.

The over-ripening of kimchi is the most serious concern when it is in storage. Since the over-ripening is mainly due to acid-forming LAB, the best way to overcome this issue is to control the growth of LAB without destroying the quality of the end product. The LAB play an important role in the taste of kimchi, and many LAB from kimchi have antimicrobial activity in addition to other useful properties.

Recently, scientists at Chosun University investigated LAB from kimchi as molecular sources for various end products, including antimicrobial compounds. Antimicrobial compounds are relatively abundant in traditionally fermented foods, in which they may play an important role as competitors with natural microflora during fermentation. Antimicrobial compound-producing LAB may be useful in preserving kimchi. This can be done by either directly applying the LAB to the culture or by adding LAB-produced antimicrobial compounds as natural bio-preservatives.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/193478661.html [entrepreneur.com]

Kimchi's probably the best example of the benefits of fermented food, but more familiar foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut are also good to eat.

Re:This is why fermented foods are healthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942550)

Part of the reason why fermented foods are so good for you is that bacteria have heavy involvement.

but more familiar foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut are also good to eat.

As for drinking, I'd suggest wine, votka or scotch (granted, yeast rather than bacteria fermentations, but fermented nevertheless!)

Brewing (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942598)

I brew mead, and it's suprising how many people don't know how I get the bubbles into the drink.

I like looking at their shocked/disgusted expressions when I explain to them that it's the yeast that eats the honey and pisses alcohol and farts carbon dioxide. =)

Wild Theory (1)

mangamuscle (706696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942470)

All life on earth dies because bacteria sooner or later damages our cells by engaging in gene transfer, making all replacement cells have little defects that over time (decades) makes us frail and weak (as in, elderly).

We're life Jim, but not as we knew it. (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942560)

These facts by themselves may trigger existential shock: People are partly made of pond scum.

I've met some people who simply are scum.

Oh... OK. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942704)

... now I get it! Christine O'Donell is a bacteria.

Not again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33942724)

I can barely afford the medicine of today. The medicine of tomorrow is well out of my reach, unless of course I can managed to remain indentured to a spendy health plan.

Freakin' OS security problems! (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942872)

If Microsoft would just write a freakin' OS that wasn't vulnerable to bugs, we wouldn't have this problem!!!

My two favorite supplements (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942882)

Probitoics and chlorella. Both are great for the gut and very useful as building blocks for the rest of the body.

Awsome ideas for sci-fi... (3, Interesting)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33942922)

This is great for a sci-fi concept. The kind that blurs the boundary between science and fiction.

the litany of bacterial talents does nibble at conventional assumptions about thinking: Bacteria can distinguish “self” from “other,” and between their relatives and strangers; they can sense how big a space they’re in; they can move as a unit; they can produce a wide variety of signaling compounds,

So, they're intelligent. They lead complex and social lives.

including at least one human neurotransmitter; they can also engage in numerous mutually beneficial relationships with their host’s cells.

Some of them are our benevolent "masters". They're similar to dog/horse breeders in that they control how we develop over time, and do so to their own ends. Much like a breeder will breed a dog for bird hunting, combat or for company. But like breeders, they also care about us and our well being. Who knows how much they've engineered multicellular animals?

They control us as much as they need to. Bacteria let us live our lives, making nations, exploring the planet and so on, as long as that suits their needs. Recently our masters have decided it's time to start moving onto space, and humans have been chosen for that purpose, and many others.

Even more impressive, some bacteria, such as Myxococcus xanthus, practice predation in packs, swarming as a group over prey microbes such as E. coli and dissolving their cell walls.

Other bacteria don't like us, nor do they like our masters. And our masters protect us as best they can.
Unfortunately, lately humans have been misbehaving like a dog who thinks it has risen in rank above its master. We're literally biting the hand that feeds us. This makes it hard for our masters to control us and protect us.

I read somewhere last year, that rain clouds are usually full of bacetria that change their cell walls to start causing droplets. It seems that bacteria control when clouds will drop down as rain. So bacteria also control weather. Lately the bioshere has been changing very rapidly, and this has pissed off many types of bacteria that rely on those ecosystems. So we, along with our masters, are becoming very unpopular.

With science in this new age dawning, we discover that the "spirits" that shamans talked about and said had formed the world, are different forms of bacteria.
With technology we once again learn to communicate to the "spirits" that control the world (but with other means than drums and chanting).

We also learn about the sinister plot (splot?, splat?) against us (where E.Coli is just one of the grunts doing the dirty work). With our growing unpopularity, more of the bacteria are siding against us.
The war has begun...

So, is that totally over the top? =)

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