The human microbiota in the healthcare system

The inner and outer surfaces of the human body is home to thousands of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi and virus, a.k.a. our microbiota. The symbiosis between the human host and the microorganisms is important for maintaining our daily health. As our understanding of the role and composition of the microbiota increases, we begin to appreciate the potential of actively considering and influencing this ‘forgotten organ’ in the health care setting. Results emerging from the large efforts of the international research community of microbiology is opening our eyes to the importance of the microbiota and the potential for targeting the microbiota in order to improve human health and delay development of disease.

While knowledge of the presence of the human microbiota is not new, the importance of a healthy microbiota and the potential benefit of targeting this ‘organ’ to promote health, is currently largely neglected in the modern healthcare system. Microbiology as a field is implemented in hospitals predominantly for testing of pathogens, while the potential positive role of the microbiome is not routinely considered.

As our understanding of the composition and role of the microbiota increases, the potential benefit of considering this ‘organ’ in monitoring and treating a number of diseases with high and growing prevalence is emerging. The role of the microbiota for disease is being evaluated for a long range of conditions and the results largely support a role of the microbiome in a range of inflammatory conditions including obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowl disease.

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