NOTE: By submitting this form and registering with us, you are providing us with permission to store your personal data and the record of your registration. In addition, registration with the Medical Independent includes granting consent for the delivery of that additional professional content and targeted ads, and the cookies required to deliver same. View our Privacy Policy and Cookie Notice for further details.

You can opt out at anytime by visiting our cookie policy page. In line with the provisions of the GDPR, the provision of your personal data is a requirement necessary to enter into a contract. We must advise you at the point of collecting your personal data that it is a required field, and the consequences of not providing the personal data is that we cannot provide this service to you.

[profilepress-login id="1"]

Don't have an account? Subscribe

The mystery of the myriad missing microbes

By Dermot - 07th Aug 2019

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed that the human microbiome is far more diverse than was previously thought and the vast majority of microbes have not only been uncharted, but in fact have never even been seen before.

The researchers, based in Stanford University in the US and led by Prof Stephen Quake, Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, were initially seeking non-invasive ways to establish whether an organ transplant candidate’s immune system may reject an organ, rather than taking a biopsy.

The team postulated that examining cell-free DNA in blood samples could predict rejection. The samples also presented a detailed overview of a participant’s viruses, bacteria and a range of other microbiomes. The work built on previous studies involving 32 pregnant women and 156 bone marrow, heart and lung transplant recipients.

The authors found that 99 per cent of non-human DNA fragments did not correlate with anything in existing DNA databases.

Prof Quake commented: “We’ve doubled the number of known viruses in that family through this work. We’ve now found a whole new class of human-infecting ones that are closer to the animal class than to the previously-known human ones, so [they are] quite divergent on the evolutionary scale.”

The team pointed out that the existing view of the “microbial universe was one that was very biased” because researchers look at the microbiome in a specific area of the body, whereas blood samples “go deeply everywhere at the same time”.

“There’s all kinds of viruses that jump from other species into humans, a sort of spillover effect, and one of the dreams here is to discover new viruses that might ultimately become human pandemics,” continued Prof Quake. “What this does is, it arms infectious disease doctors with a whole set of new bugs to track and see if they’re associated with disease. That’s going to be a whole other chapter of work for people to do.”

Leave a Reply

Latest Issue
The Medical Independent – 24 June 2021

You need to be logged in to access this content. Please login or sign up using the links below.

Most Read