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Body Ecosystem Roundup

June 29, 2012

You’d be amazed at the sheer number of microbes that live inside us, and affect our health.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Managing the zoo inside us. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For every cell that makes up our bodies, there are ten hitchhikers—tens of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that call our body home. In a special edition of the journal Science, researchers discussed how this menagerie of tiny tenants affects our health. An international team of scientists reported on how the microbe community develops and changes from birth to death, and how that community can keep us healthy or lead to diseases and even depression.  Another team reported on how our immune system either lives peacefully with the microbes, or overreacts, leading to autoimmune disorders like and rheumatoid arthritis. And one team of researchers suggested that medicine could learn a lot from ecology; perhaps doctors can keep us healthy by managing the ecosystem of critters living inside us, the way a game warden manages a forest. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.