ARE MICROBES OUR FRIENDS?
WHO’S INSIDE OF YOU
Nowadays, the most fashionable headlines come from pop-science articles, like “We Are Only Half-Human”. They’re talking about our physical composition.
It’s like this – more than half of our bodies are not “ours” and not human cells, but microbes, bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and other microbiomes. And it’s impossible to wash them off. Each of us provides them a hospitable home, and in each of us there are two DNA factories, ours and theirs. In addition to our genome, there is the microbial genome, and they interact.
It seems that the paradigm is changing, though. Instead of “us=good, them=bad”, it is now considered that we are all one family, but not with all of them – only the friendly ones, which we formerly tried to oppress out of ignorance.
So we aren’t the only ones living in this body; there’s a vast number of other living things. They live in the shadows – for example in the intestines. And perhaps in the eyes.
Antiobiotics were a great invention, but some experts are predicting an apocalypse, as these pathogens are now learning to bypass this “blockage”. It’s possible that in our valiant struggle against microbes we have already caused irreparable damage to our friends in this tiny world.
Is this why there’s a rapid increase in autoimmune disorders today? It could be that the state of the microbiome is a powerful factor in the inflammation of the intestines, neurodegenerative processes, and even the effectiveness of cancer treatment may depend on the “mood” of our little friends, because they make up a large part of us.
Obesity cannot help but depend on the intestinal microflora, as well. In this sense, bad bacteria are involved with the metabolic processes in such a way that only fat accumulates.
Bacteria was transplanted from the stool of both obese and thin people into mice, and the mice accordingly became either fat or thin.
Work is already underway in the laboratory to create microbiota for both healthy and sick people. For example, let’s say you’re lacking important microbes. In the near future, you can have the right mixture implanted. So don’t be surprised if ulcerative colitis, obesity, and other problems soon go away, as microbial treatment is right around the corner. A smart toilet could make an analysis of your stools and cheerfully make recommendations.
BACK TO THE EYES
On the surface of the eyes (in mice, at least), it is said that there are also tiny friends that protect them from harmful bacteria and viruses.
There were also traces of earlier bacterial DNA, as well. At one time, there was a hypothesis that microbes simply sat on the eyes until they were destroyed by antibiotics or immune cells. Therefore, the discovery of this bacterium, which had been “prescribed” there for permanent residence, was a surprise for researchers.
Called corynebacterium mastitidis, it lives inside the mucous membrane of the eye and lacrimal glands. It turns on an immune-like response when enemy microbes appear and then turns it off when the danger has passed.
Perhaps this can help explain why some people suffer from inflammation and eye diseases more often than others. It’s clear this isn’t the end of the story. Other microbial allies can live on the surface of the eyes, as well, and are waiting to be discovered.
Photo by Tiphaine on Unsplash