The human microbiome is the population of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin, and just about everywhere in our bodies. These microbial communities have numerous beneficial functions that support everyday life—like digesting food, preventing disease-causing bacteria from invading the body, and synthesizing nutrients and vitamins.
When the normal composition of the microbiome gets thrown off balance, we become at risk for disorders such as cancer, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, asthma, and even brain development can be affected.
Scott Peterson, Ph.D., is a professor in Sanford-Burnham’s Bioinformatics and Structural Biology Program. Peterson leads a team of researchers working in a variety of settings to understand how microbes influence normal and abnormal conditions—and how interventions that can modulate and modify microbes may lead to therapeutic strategies.
“Depending on how you look at it, microbes may be a target of, or a tool for treating disease. The microbiome can influence therapeutic interventions through delivery, metabolism, and toxicity of drugs. The microbiome can also be used to treat diseases like inflammatory bowel disease by transplanting gut microbes to reshape and restore intestinal flora in the digestive system,” says Peterson.
Peterson was recently approached by Medscape to prepare a presentation titled “Your Microbiome and You: What Clinicians Need to Know.” Medscape is part of the WebMD Health Professional Network offering specialists, primary-care physicians and other health professions integrated medical information and educational tools. The presentation is intended to ignite the discussion of what the microbiome means for clinicians, and share how scientists are exploring, and exploiting, the microbiome.
Check out the insightful and colorful presentation here: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/microbiome#1.