"The human microbiome has been selected, and passed from mother to child, because the bacterial genes are helpful," says Dr. Blaser who is also a professor of Microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center. "But as a result of modern practices including widespread antibiotics use, caesarean sections, amalgam dental fillings, constant cleansing, clean water, smaller families and transmission of these normal ancestral microbes has changed, and there are consequences. Some consequences might be good, while others could be bad."
Dr. Blaser and his colleagues at NYU Langone Medical Center have been studying microbes for over thirty years. Microbal cells, collectively known as the human microbiome, reside on our skin and inside our bodies, outnumbering the cells of our own bodies by 10 to 1. They communicate with our own cells and with our immune system, carry out essential metabolic tasks, crowd out pathogens, degrade toxins, and help digest our food.
Advances in DNA sequencing technologies have allowed for further investigation of microbes. Through the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), over 900 species of microbes have been genetically sequenced in an effort to determine the ways changes in the microbiome correlate with human health and disease. The T-R01 grant will help further the understanding of metabolic effects of antibiotic use on normal microbiome development.
"Right now, antibiotics are used in children early in life to treat ear infections and other ailments, and the thought process is that it may not 'help', but it certainly doesn't 'hurt,'" says Dr. Blaser. "But what if antibiotic use actually 'hurts?' What if there are unintended consequences of the 'use' or 'overuse' of antibiotics? This is the question we hope to answer."
The grant will involve multiple departments at NYU Langone Medical Center, including the Departments of Medicine, Pathology Radiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Environm
|Contact: Dorie Klissas|
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine