Mapping microbes in people

first_imgNew studies involving Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers have helped to identify and analyze the vast human “microbiome,” the more than 5 million microbial genes in the body.Scientists estimate that each person carries about 100 times as many microbial genes as human genes, and they want to learn more about the role that microbes — organisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in the stomach, in the mouth, on the skin, or elsewhere — play in normal bodily functions, like development or immunity, as well as in disease.Several HSPH studies were conducted as part of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), a multidisciplinary effort involving nearly 250 members from nearly 80 research institutions that is publishing five years of research in several journals simultaneously.As a result of this effort, HMP consortium researchers calculate that there are more than 10,000 microbial species that live in humans. Previously, only a few hundred bacterial species had been isolated. Between 81 and 99 percent of the genera, or basic family groupings, of these microorganisms in healthy adults were found during this study.These included several opportunistic pathogens, microorganisms that typically coexist harmlessly with the rest of the microbiome and their human hosts, but which can cause disease under unusual circumstances.The HMP research appears in the journals Nature, Nature Methods, and several Public Library of Science publications.At HSPH, researchers outlined powerful new computational methods for cataloging the massive amount of genetic information about the human microbiome and began to analyze the way these microbes function in the body, such as in digesting food or reducing inflammation.“This research tells us the range of healthy variation in microbial function and in specific bugs. Knowing which sorts of microbes are normally found in healthy people can help us understand the roles they play during changes in disease,” said Curtis Huttenhower, assistant professor of computational biology and bioinformatics in the Department of Biostatistics at HSPH. “Just as human genome sequencing helps us figure out how a person’s genes put them at risk or protect them, so too can the microbial genomes associated with the human body provide information about health benefits or risks.”(At the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Dirk Gevers, a group leader in genome sequencing and analysis, was first co-author of a Nature paper, and co-author of another. Broad researchers Doyle Ward and Bruce Birren were co-authors of the Nature papers. Broad scientist Georgia Giannoukos and her team developed protocols to allow the project to sequence thousands of study samples.)Huttenhower, who co-led several of the consortium’s analysis efforts, also helped to coordinate the analysis paper published in Nature and was senior author on two papers.The main Nature paper outlined how HMP researchers, in the most comprehensive assessment to date of the normal human microbiome, found a remarkably diverse and abundant range of species that are personalized within individuals.“We’ve been able to assess that each person’s microbial signature is fairly unique, in much the same way that an individual’s genome is unique,” said Huttenhower.The researchers speculated that variations in an individual’s microbiome may be connected to diet, genetic makeup, early life events such as breastfeeding, environmental exposures, and immune function, or other factors.In the past, most human microbial species had not been successfully analyzed because of the difficulty of cultivating them in the lab, presumably because their growth is dependent on being in the specific environment provided by their hosts. But the current efforts rely on a type of analysis called metagenomics, which uses genetic material drawn directly from environmental samples — in this case humans.To define and analyze the normal human microbiome, HMP researchers sampled 242 healthy male and female volunteers, collecting tissues from 15 body sites in men and 18 in women — such as the mouth, nose, skin, and lower intestine — at different points in time.For a paper that appeared in Nature Methods, Huttenhower and his colleagues, including lead author Nicola Segata, research fellow in the Department of Biostatistics at HSPH, used novel computational methods to identify about 350 of the most important organisms in these microbial communities.Using DNA sequencing, the researchers were able to sift through 3.5 terabytes of genomic data and pinpoint genetic “name tags,” or sequences specific only to these bacteria. The researchers were then able to identify where and how often these bacterial markers occurred throughout the HMP’s healthy population. This highly sensitive microbial detection allowed, for example, the cataloging of more than 100 opportunistic pathogens, which aids the understanding of where in the microbiome these organisms occur normally, before potentially causing disease.For a Public Library of Science computational biology paper, Huttenhower and colleagues studied the functions performed by the microbes. This required searching the DNA sequences for markers, not of specific microbes, but for individual metabolic processes. The researchers found that while there is a great deal of variation among types of microbes found in different people and in different body sites within individuals, the microbes’ functions were much more consistent.“There are tremendous differences in which particular bugs are present in an individual, but different bugs perform the same sorts of functions in specific areas of the body,” Huttenhower said.For instance, he said, the gastrointestinal tract can contain many kinds of microbes able to perform a similar function, such as breaking down complex starches. Likewise, in the mouth, different microbes might specialize in processes that help them to survive in that habitat, such as processing the simple sugars available in the mouth. In the vaginal tract, microbes considered to be beneficial can aid the immune system by repelling dangerous bacteria.These findings highlight the fact that, for the most part, microorganisms play helpful roles in our bodies.Other HSPH authors on the Nature Methods paper include Levi Waldron, research fellow, and student Vagheesh Narasimhan, both from the Department of Biostatistics. Segata was also a contributor to the computational biology paper and the lead author on a paper in Genome Biology that offered a detailed profile of microbes that live in the human gastrointestinal tract.HMP is funded by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund, an initiative that finances high-impact, large-scale research.last_img read more

HHS orders more antivirals for national stockpile

first_img The antiviral courses were sent to Mexico at the request of the Mexican government, she said. The amount sent to Mexico accounts for less than 1% of the SNS, HHS said. HHS said in a press release that the purchase would cost about $251 million and is intended to replace the 11 million courses that it just sent to states and the shipment to Mexico, plus extra for other outbreak needs. Apr 30 HHS press release In other developments, a research team from the University of Hong Kong today published a modeling study that suggests early use of a secondary antiviral medication at the local level during a pandemic might delay resistance to the primary drug. The findings appear in an early online edition of Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS Medicine). They also evaluated an early combination therapy strategy and calculated that it could also help delay antiviral resistance, but they reported it wasn’t practical because the safety of zanamivir-oseltamivir therapy has not been established. May 1, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Federal officials will acquire 13 million more courses of antiviral medication for the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and have begun sending 400,000 treatment courses to Mexico to help control the spread of the virus, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced yesterday. “As this flu virus outbreak expands across the country, we have been taking necessary steps to ensure states have the resources they need,” Sebelius said in the statement. “The 13 million additional treatment courses that we will purchase will allow us to replenish our national stockpile and further ensure we are prepared to provide the American people with the treatments they may need to stay healthy.” In the current swine influenza outbreak setting, the authors said the secondary drug would be zanamivir (Relenza), the only other drug besides oseltamivir (Tamiflu) that has shown to be effective against the new virus. Apr 30 PLoS Medicine press release See also: Anne Schuchat, MD, interim deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) science and public health program, said at a press briefing today, “We don’t know if we’ll need them [the extra antivirals], but we want to be ready.”last_img read more

Eagles Jr. High Soccer Team Gets ‘W’ Over Shiners

first_imgThe JCD Jr. High soccer team hosted the Rising Sun Shiners on Monday, September 9th, winning 4-1.Scoring for the Eagles.: Carson Hughes 3 goals, 6 shots; Brady Comer 1 goal, 4 shots; Clark Dwenger 1 shot, 1 stop; Dylan Hon 1 assist, 1 shot; Grant Rinear 2 assist, 1 shot; Charlie Furlow 1 assist, 6 shots; Sam Simon 1 shot; Warren Boor 2 shots; Sam Schwering 4 stops; Brady Borgman 2 saves.Courtesy of Eagles Coach Larry Hammond.last_img

Liverpool held by Baggies

first_imgLiverpool’s slim Champions League hopes suffered a huge blow as they were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at West Brom. The Reds are fifth in the Barclays Premier League but only moved six points behind Manchester City before the champions’ home game with Aston Villa. Jordon Ibe hit the bar for the visitors and Boaz Myhill saved from Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson. Press Association Without the injured Daniel Sturridge, the Italy international was Liverpool’s focal point but again let Rodgers’ side down with a lifeless performance. The second half at least brought some excitement within 10 minutes of the restart when the Baggies survived a triple scare. Johnson’s cross found Balotelli and his blocked shot fell to Coutinho, with Myhill saving his effort and then Henderson’s follow-up. A minute later Craig Gardner guided Chris Brunt’s cross into the sidenetting for Albion with the second half instantly more enthralling than the first. But Liverpool almost grabbed the lead on 62 minutes when Ibe swapped passes with Balotelli and darted into the area, only for his 10-yard effort to deflect off the bar. Suddenly, the game had opened up and the Baggies nearly went ahead when Mignolet saved Morrison’s header after Martin Skrtel made a hash of Callum McManaman’s cross. Liverpool looked the more likely to break the deadlock but it never came and Myhill calmly saved Gerrard’s snapshot with 13 minutes left. Mignolet had to ensure a point with two minutes left when he saved McManaman’s effort at the near post. But Dejan Lovren could have won it in injury time when he headed Gerrard’s cross wide from eight yards. But they were left to rue a pedestrian performance with little goal threat from Mario Balotelli, who was hauled off in the second half. Simon Mignolet saved from Albion’s James Morrison as West Brom edged towards safety but are still only seven points above the relegation zone. Balotelli started his first top flight game since November while Ibe and Glen Johnson also returned as Steven Gerrard made his 500th Barclays Premier League appearance for Liverpool. West Brom were unchanged for the visit of the Reds following their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace with the Baggies on the brink of safety. And that was exactly how the hosts looked in an instantly forgettable first half where both sides’ one-paced approach left The Hawthorns asleep. Liverpool, still smarting from their 2-1 FA Cup semi final defeat to Aston Villa, were expected to improve after a weak display at Wembley. Yet Brendan Rodgers’ side offered little attacking threat aside from two brief flashpoints which barely troubled the hosts. First, Gerrard’s free kick whistled over on 27 minutes before Balotelli’s instinctive volley arrowed over eight minutes later. last_img read more