The Human Microbiome Project, a consortium of more than 200 researchers, has mapped healthy human microbial cells in 18 different sites on the human body, which holds promise for future disease and health research.
Organized by the NIH, Human Microbiome Project (HMP) researchers took samples from various sites on 242 people; areas of examination included the nose, mouth, skin, lower intestine and vagina.
The series of coordinated reports, released in several journals in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and the journal Nature this month, note more than 10,000 species that include bacteria, archaea, viruses and eukaryotic microbes are found in and on the human body, and 81% to 99% have been identified in healthy men and women.
“Like 15th century explorers describing the outline of a new continent, HMP researchers employed a new technological strategy to define, for the first time, the normal microbial makeup of the human body,” Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, NIH director, said in a statement about the studies. “HMP created a remarkable reference database by using genome sequencing techniques to detect microbes in healthy volunteers. This lays the foundation for accelerating infectious disease research previously impossible without this community resource.”
According to James M. Anderson, MD, PhD, director of the NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, “We now have a very good idea of what is normal for a healthy Western population and are beginning to learn how changes in the microbiome correlate with physiology and disease.”
HMP data joins resources generated by computational tool development for analysis of the microbiome, research on the ethical, legal and social implications of the microbiota, technology development for investigating these microbial communities and a range of disease-focused microbiome demonstration projects. HMP resources are publicly available at http://hmpdacc.org.
For more information:
- Human Microbiome Project Consortium. Nature. 2012;doi:10.1038/nature11209.
- Human Microbiome Project Consortium. Nature. 2012;doi:10.1038/nature11234.
- Jumpstart Consortium Human Microbiome Project Data Generation Working Group. PLoS ONE. 2012;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039315.
- Wylie KM. PLoS ONE. 2012;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035294.