Monday, December 24, 2007

NIH Launches Human Microbiome Project

The human body contains trillions of microorganisms, living together with human cells, usually in harmony. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about one to two percent of the body’s mass. Many microbes maintain our health, while others cause illness. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the role this astounding assortment of bacteria, fungi and other microbes play in human health and disease. To better understand these interactions, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced the official launch of the Human Microbiome Project. The human microbiome is the collective genomes of all microorganisms present in or on the human body.

Part of the NIH’s Roadmap for Medical Research, the Human Microbiome Project will award a total of $115 million to researchers over the next five years. Initially, researchers will sequence 600 microbial genomes, completing a collection that will total some 1,000 microbial genomes and providing a resource for investigators interested in exploring the human microbiome.
I thought this was a good idea when I first heard about it, and am glad to see that it has become a reality. While these microbes living with up weigh only 2 to 3 pounds, by cell count they outnumber "us" 10 to 1 and by gene count at least 2 to 1.

via NIH News

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