Our Body the Ecosystem: Understanding the Interplay Between Man and Microbe

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 11:30 in Health & Medicine

Studying our natural internal bacteria could help doctors cure diseases that affect millions When Jake Harvey visits the clinical center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, he is usually dirty, itchy and wheezing-not the happiest state of affairs for a 14-year-old boy. But his doctors require that for 24 hours prior to each visit, he refrain from bathing, or using the inhaler that soothes his asthma, or applying the ointment that softens his eczema. In order to study his illness, they need him to be in as close to his natural state as possible. Jake's discomfort could lead to better treatments for the millions who have eczema-a disorder marked by dry red rashes in the creases of elbows, behind knees and on the back of necks-as well as an array of other allergic reactions. By understanding eczema in a new way, as the product of a delicate interaction between...

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