Synthetic Genetic Shakespeares

Medical science has awakened to the idea that human health and well being are influenced significantly by the microbial communities in and on our bodies (1).  The list of disease conditions either influenced or aggravated by our microbial partners is impressive and growing. 

Physicians have long understood that disturbing a healthy gastro-intestinal tract microbial community with antibiotic treatments or anti-cancer chemotherapies may create serious disease due to the bacterium Clostridium difficile.  Unfortunately, these situations are not always reversible and many patients succumb to this medication-induced illness (2).  Instead of switching antibiotics and hoping that resolves the problem, a newer strategy is to reestablish the normal gut flora by inoculating patients with small fecal samples acquired from healthy donors (3).   Fecal transplants appear to be more effective at controlling or curing Clostridium difficile disease than the traditional methods (1, 2, 3).

Realizing our microbial partners influence human health has sparked…

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