Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Declaring a Truce with Our Microbiological Frienemies

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Managing bacteria and other microorganisms in the body, rather than just fighting them, may be lead to better health and a stronger immune system, according to a Penn State biologist.

Researchers have historically focused on microbes in the body as primarily pathogens that must be fought, said Eric Harvill, professor of microbiology and infectious disease. However, he said that recent evidence of the complex interaction of the body with microbes suggests a new interpretation of the relationship.

"Now we are beginning to understand that the immune system interacts with far more beneficial bacteria than pathogens," said Harvill. "We need to re-envision what the true immune system really is."

Harvill said that this reinterpretation leads to a more flexible approach to understanding how the immune system interacts with microbes. This approach should balance between defending against pathogens and enlisting the help of beneficial microbes.

While the role that some bacteria play in aiding digestion is better known, microbes assist in improving body functions, including strengthening the immune system and responding to injuries.

In some cases, attacking pathogens can harm the beneficial effects microbes have on immune system, according to Harvill. For example, patients on antibiotics have an increased risk of contracting yeast infections and MRSA.

"Viewing everything currently considered immunity, including both resistance and tolerance, as aspects of a complex microbiome management system that mediates interactions with the sea of microbes that surround us, many of which are beneficial, can provide a much more positive outlook and different valuable perspectives," Harvill said.

The system that includes bacteria and other microbes in the human body, or the microbiome, is much larger and more integrated into human health than most people suspect, according to Harvill.

"The human body has ten times more bacterial cells than human cells," said Harvill.

Adding to the complexity is the adaptive capacity of the human immune system. The immune system can develop antibodies against certain pathogens, which it can reuse when threatened by future attacks from the same pathogen.

Harvill, who described his alternative viewpoint in the latest issue of mBio, said that some researchers have not yet accepted this broader approach to the immune system.

"Among immunologists or microbiologists this is an alien concept," said Harvill. "It's not part of how we have historically looked at the immune system, but it's a useful viewpoint."

Other researchers who study plant and nonhuman biology are already starting to embrace the concept. For example, plant biologists are beginning to recognize that viruses can help plants resist drought and heat.

"Within nonhuman immunology, this is not an alien concept because they have seen many examples of beneficial relationships between the host and its microbial commensals," Harvill said.

Harvill said adopting this new perspective could be the first step toward new medical treatments.

"This new viewpoint suggests new experiments and results will published," said Harvill. "And, hopefully, the concept becomes more and more mainstream as supporting evidence accumulates."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

E. coli Thrive in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Researchers have defined a fundamental mechanism through which the bacteria can thrive during IBD flare-ups.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Research On Mitochondrial DNA Could Bolster Forensic Investigations
A new grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will help scientists from Penn State’s Eberly College of Science delve deep into the world of mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, used to help solve crime in forensic investigations.
Monday, January 26, 2015
New Grant Tests NGS Tools For Crime Laboratories
National Institute of Justice grant of over $800,000 will test DNA investigative tools utilizing NGS technology.
Friday, January 09, 2015
Altered Milk Protein Can Deliver AIDS Drug to Infants
Binding with an antiretroviral drug promises to greatly improve treatment for infants and young children suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Protein Changes Linked to Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
Neuroscientists have made a research discovery that helps point the way to potential therapies for memory-related disorders.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Using Information Technology to Tackle the Root of World Hungar
Scientists are studying what the rest of us don't see--the work going on underneath the ground that enables the growth of healthier crops.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Researchers Discover Protein Changes that Control Whether a Gene Functions
A Penn State-led research team has found that changes to proteins called histones, which are associated with DNA, can control whether or not a gene is allowed to function.
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Ultraviolet Flashes can Create Vitamin D-Enriched Mushrooms
Quick zaps of ultraviolet light can boost the vitamin D levels in mushrooms in seconds, turning the fungi into an even healthier food, according to Penn State food scientists.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Penn State Researchers Part of Award-Winning Africa Research Team
College of Agricultural Sciences scientists are part of a research team that recently won 2013 Africa Collaboration Challenge Prize.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Study Suggests Dairy Herd Water Quality Linked to Milk Production
A recently completed study of water supplies on Pennsylvania dairy farms found that about a quarter of those tested had at least one water-quality issue.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Environmental Law Institute Recognizes Penn State Wetlands Scientist
Robert P. Brooks, a wetlands scientist at Penn State, has received the 2013 National Wetlands Award for Science Research.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Probing Question: Do Women Dominate the Field of Forensic Science?
Women going against the stereotype in the booming field of forensic science.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Computer Simulations Reveal the Energy Landscape of Ion Channels
A team of researchers have investigated the opening and closing mechanisms of these channels: for the first time the full energy landscape of such a large protein could be calculated.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Number of Foodborne Illness Cases Largely Unchanged in U.S.
Recently released reports about the frequency of foodborne illness show that the risks have not changed much in recent years, according to an expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Changing Cellulose-Forming Process May Tap Plants' Biofuel Potential
Changing the way a plant forms cellulose may lead to more efficient, less expensive biofuel production, according to Penn State engineers.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Utilization of Circulating Biomarkers for Minimally Invasive Diagnostics Development
Market Trends in Biofluid-based Liquid Biopsies: Deploying Circulating Biomarkers in the Clinic. Enal Razvi, Ph.D., Managing Director, Select Biosciences, Inc.
Lab-on-a-Chip Offers Promise for TB and Asthma Patients
A device to mix liquids using ultrasonics is the first and most difficult component in a miniaturized system for low-cost analysis of sputum from patients with pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma.
Intracellular Microlasers Could Allow Precise Labeling of up to a Trillion Individual Cells
MGH investigators have induced structures incorporated within individual cells to produce laser light at wavelengths that differ based on the size, shape and composition of each microlaser, allowing precise labeling of individual cells.
Real-Time Imaging of Lung Lesions During Surgery
Targeted molecular agents cause lung adenocarcinomas to fluoresce during surgery, according to pilot report.
Watching a Tumour Grow in Real-Time
Researchers from the University of Freiburg have gained new insight into the phases of breast cancer growth.
Protein Related to Long Term Traumatic Brain Injury Complications Discovered
NIH-study shows protein found at higher levels in military members who have suffered multiple TBIs.
Childhood Cancer Cells Drain Immune System’s Batteries
Cancer cells in neuroblastoma contain a molecule that breaks down a key energy source for the body’s immune cells, leaving them too physically drained to fight the disease.
Urine Proteins Point to Early-Stage Pancreatic Cancer
A combination of three proteins found at high levels in urine can accurately detect early-stage pancreatic cancer, researchers at the BCI have shown.
Researcher Discovers Trigger of Deadly Melanoma
New research sheds light on the precise trigger that causes melanoma cancer cells to transform from non-invasive cells to invasive killer agents, pinpointing the precise place in the process where "traveling" cancer turns lethal.
New Vaccine For Chlamydia to Use Synthetic Biology
Prokarium Ltd, a biotechnology company developing transformational oral vaccines, have announced new funding from SynbiCITE, the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!