Navigation Links
Declaring a truce with our microbiological frienemies
Date:3/28/2013

Managing bacteria and other microorganisms in the body, rather than just fighting them, may be lead to better health and a stronger immune system, according to a Penn State biologist.

Researchers have historically focused on microbes in the body as primarily pathogens that must be fought, said Eric Harvill, professor of microbiology and infectious disease. However, he said that recent evidence of the complex interaction of the body with microbes suggests a new interpretation of the relationship.

"Now we are beginning to understand that the immune system interacts with far more beneficial bacteria than pathogens," said Harvill. "We need to re-envision what the true immune system really is."

Harvill said that this reinterpretation leads to a more flexible approach to understanding how the immune system interacts with microbes. This approach should balance between defending against pathogens and enlisting the help of beneficial microbes.

While the role that some bacteria play in aiding digestion is better known, microbes assist in improving body functions, including strengthening the immune system and responding to injuries.

In some cases, attacking pathogens can harm the beneficial effects microbes have on immune system, according to Harvill. For example, patients on antibiotics have an increased risk of contracting yeast infections and MRSA.

"Viewing everything currently considered immunity, including both resistance and tolerance, as aspects of a complex microbiome management system that mediates interactions with the sea of microbes that surround us, many of which are beneficial, can provide a much more positive outlook and different valuable perspectives," Harvill said.

The system that includes bacteria and other microbes in the human body, or the microbiome, is much larger and more integrated into human health than most people suspect, according to Harvill.

"The human body has ten times more bacterial cells than human cells," said Harvill. Adding to the complexity is the adaptive capacity of the human immune system. The immune system can develop antibodies against certain pathogens, which it can reuse when threatened by future attacks from the same pathogen.

Harvill, who described his alternative viewpoint in the latest issue of mBio, said that some researchers have not yet accepted this broader approach to the immune system.

"Among immunologists or microbiologists this is an alien concept," said Harvill. "It's not part of how we have historically looked at the immune system, but it's a useful viewpoint."

Other researchers who study plant and nonhuman biology are already starting to embrace the concept. For example, plant biologists are beginning to recognize that viruses can help plants resist drought and heat.

"Within nonhuman immunology, this is not an alien concept because they have seen many examples of beneficial relationships between the host and its microbial commensals," Harvill said. Harvill said adopting this new perspective could be the first step toward new medical treatments.

"This new viewpoint suggests new experiments and results will published," said Harvill. "And, hopefully, the concept becomes more and more mainstream as supporting evidence accumulates."


'/>"/>

Contact: Matthew Swayne
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/29/2016)... Nov. 29, 2016   Neurotechnology , ... object recognition technologies, today released FingerCell 3.0, ... recognition solutions that run on low-power, low-memory ... using less than 128KB of memory, enabling ... that have limited on-board resources, such as: ...
(Date:11/28/2016)... 28, 2016 "The biometric ... 16.79%" The biometric system market is in the ... the near future. The biometric system market is expected ... at a CAGR of 16.79% between 2016 and 2022. ... biometric technology in smartphones, rising use of biometric technology ...
(Date:11/22/2016)... According to the new market research report "Biometric System Market by Authentication ... (Hardware and Software), Function (Contact and Non-contact), Application, and Region - Global ... from USD 10.74 Billion in 2015 to reach USD 32.73 Billion by ... Continue Reading ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... TORONTO , Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Portage ... Canadian Securities Exchange: PBT.U), is excited to announce ... company focused on developing preclinical ophthalmology assets through ... a potent anti-inflammatory created by Portage Pharmaceuticals Limited ... patients with ocular surface and anterior segment diseases. ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... Nov. 30, 2016  The Allen Institute for ... the first publicly available collection of gene edited, ... target key cellular structures with unprecedented clarity. Distributed ... powerful tools are a crucial first step toward ... understand what makes human cells healthy and what ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... CHICAGO , Nov. 30, 2016  Tempus, ... customized cancer care, and Penn,s Abramson Cancer Center ... have a positive response to immunotherapy treatment based ... As part of a research collaboration, ... pancreatic and melanoma cancer patient data to Penn. ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... BILLERICA, Massachusetts , 30. November 2016 ... und Technologieunternehmen, hat heute die Unterzeichnung einer ... gegeben. Diesen zufolge wird Evotec AG Screeningleistungen ... und shRNA-Bibliotheken bereitstellen. Der Zugriff auf diese ... Bereich Screening eröffnet einen schnelleren Weg zur ...
Breaking Biology Technology: