Tag Archives: microbiome

Be skeptical of products and treatments for microbiome, experts say

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Journalists and health providers should be skeptical about products and treatments related to the microbiome because researchers are still in the early days of understanding how it works and its connection to health.

Three scientists – Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, director the Washington University Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology, Dr. Lita Proctor, the National Institutes of Health’s former Human Microbiome Project coordinator, and Dr. Anna Seekatz, Clemson University assistant professor of biological sciences – all emphasized to reporters that researchers are far from unlocking the key to the body’s community of microbes. Continue reading

Researchers warn that evidence about microbiome’s role is preliminary

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Jonathan Bailey, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH via Flickr

PHOENIX – Journalists who write about health claims connected to the microbiome – the army of bacteria that live on and in the body – should exercise skepticism because most research has yet to determine the microbiome’s precise role in health and disease.

In fact, the scientific evidence is still so scant, probiotics sold on the market, like Culturelle, are probably not as beneficial as advertised, two scientists who spoke at AHCJ’s annual conference said. Continue reading

New studies consider how oral flora can impact health of the entire body

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: mostly*harmless via FlickrFusobacterium nucleatum

The human mouth is home to a variety of ecological niches, inhabited by hundreds of microbial species.

Scientists are eager to learn more about that world and its dynamic population. They hope their study of the oral microbiome will eventually contribute to a deeper understanding of how oral flora contribute to health and disease.

One new study, recently published in Science, offers an example of the kind of work that is unfolding. Continue reading

Covering the wild west of microbiome research #ahcj15

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Since stool transplants have turned out to be useful in fighting deadly hospital-borne C. difficile infections, new claims about the healing powers of poop are everywhere.

The slogan on panelist Jonathan Eisen’s black t-shirt, spelled out in pink glitter, captures the current entrepreneurial mood: “Ask Me About Fecal Transplants.”

A wide array of products and innovations are already promising to help us improve our inner flora. Yet reporters and consumers need to be wary.

“Microbiome hype” is rampant, warned Eisen, Ph.D., a professor from the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and College of Biological Sciences. Continue reading

Pucker up: Research into kissing may help with future bacterial therapies

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Dutch researchers have concluded that during a 10-second French kiss, partners exchange an average of 80 million bacteria.

Their study, “Shaping the Oral Microbiota Through Intimate Kissing,” was recently published in the journal Microbiome.

The researchers conducted their investigation with the help of 21 human couples visiting Amsterdam’s Royal Artis Zoo on a summer day in 2012. They administered a questionnaire on the kissing habits of each partner in each couple and collected samples of tongue and salivary microbiota from each participant before and after a “controlled kissing experiment.” Then they offered a probiotic yogurt drink containing marker bacteria to one of the partners in each couple prior to a second French kiss to quantify the number of bacteria exchanged.

Photo: Marin Wibaux via Flickr

Photo: Marin Wibaux via Flickr

The findings suggest that a shared microbiota is able to develop in the mouths of partners. While collective bacteria in saliva were eventually washed out, those on the surface of the tongue were able to find “a true niche, allowing long-term colonization,” the researchers wrote.

“French kissing is a great example of exposure to a gigantic number of bacteria in a short time,” lead researcher Remco Kort of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research said in a story published online by the BBC. “But only some bacteria transferred from a kiss seemed to take hold on the tongue.

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