A2-Microbes in the News

Title: “Gut Hack” by Kate McLean and Mario Furloni

Article Link:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/opinion/gut-hack.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FMicrobiology&action=click&contentCollection=science&re

Source: NY Times

Date: April 11th, 2017

Summary: Josiah Zayner, an independent scientist with a lab in his apartment, was researching the feasibility of what he called “an extreme version of a fecal transplant”. Suffering from digestive problems his whole life, Josiah looked to recolonize his gut microbiota using samples from a donor in the comfort of a hotel room.

Connection: This article pertains heavily to the concepts learned in the Human microbiome lecture. This article explores how an imbalance in Josiah’s gut microbiome was affecting his life, and how beneficial he believed that changing his gut microbiota (even though risky) would be for the better.

Critical Analysis: I found it interesting that Josiah was willing to change his micrbiome, even though his existing microbiome is the result of many different environmental and genetic factors. To change/disturb the balance of his gut microbiome seems fairly risky and ill-advised to me, especially since so little is understood on the microbiome in general.

Question: Are there any feasible methods to test the donor’s samples for pathogenic organisms without disturbing them so much that they can’t be used for their intended purpose? Especially considering how many antibiotics he plans to take beforehand.