Science Interviews

Interview

Sat, 12th May 2012

Sequencing the microbiome

Nell Barrie

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Genes and evolution - from populations to tumours

Kat:: Another story that we also noticed this one is about the microbiome.  Now they’ve sequenced the human genome, they’re trying to move on to sequencing all the bugs in our gut.  Is this possible now, do you reckon?

Nell::  It certainly looks like that.  I mean we've got so much more powerful genetic sequencing technology compared to, you know, 10 or even 2 or 3 three years ago.  And it's just really exciting the amount of data you can get out of this. And I supposed, the funny thing about this research is we don't really know what we're going to do with the data.  We've got this amazing potential for finding out all kinds of cool things but we don't know what those cool things are going to be.  So a lot of the coverage is a bit like as this hope, is it hype?  What are we going to do with that?  How is it going to help people? And we don't know yet but I don't think that's the reason why we shouldn't be doing it.  I think it looks really exciting and it could have a lot of interesting applications for a lot of kinds of diseases.

Kat::  Yes.  Some of the coverage I was seeing was saying, "Well we sequenced the human genome and you know, it hasn't solved everything."  But I don't think that's a reason not to do this because actually, when you think about it, manipulating the bugs in your gut is probably easy than trying to develop drugs to target gene faults.  Because have you seen the stuff about poo transplants?  This is great, we've seen this.

Nell::  It's really cool.  Yes.  That just sounds amazing.  So it's kind of taking all the bugs from someone else's gut and transplanting them into somebody who's maybe affected by autoimmune problems or they might have something wrong with their digestion.  And in some people it seems to have really amazing effect.  And again, you know, we don't really know what's going on there.  But if we can figure out how these little bugs are interacting, how they affect people, then we could maybe work out a nicer way to do that that doesn't involve transplanting poo.

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