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Anna Crist

student researcher , University of Oregon

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Purell now, Bacteri-ell later?

The hygiene hypothesis, the idea that “too much cleanliness prevents the development of a well-balanced immune response”(Sironi and Clerici, 2010), has received a lot of support and also criticism. It has recently been challenged by the hypothesis of “early immune challenge”, which states that a lack of appropriate immune stimulation during early childhood might account for the increased development of allergies in industrialized countries (Kramer et al, 2013). This proposal places less emphasis on excessive hygienic practices and focuses more on the insufficient exposure to specific environmental microbes, particularly those from non-urban environments, as the reason behind the rise of atopic disease. While different, both hypotheses point to the beneficial health affects of some microbes.

What do you think is the reason for increased allergy levels in industrialized countries? Do you think that a concoction of the “right” microbial species in the form of a lotion, drink, or inhalant (aka "Bacteri-ell") could be a future replacement for natural exposure to beneficial microbes?
Instead of using hand sanitizers like Purell, do you see a future where people from some regions of the world are unsanitizing their hands with “Bacteri-ell”?

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  • May 1 2013: I think in cetain level of future bacteri-ell help to strengthen or rebuild human micro biome, but the replacement may not happen. Because a significant level of microbes are encoded by the individual human DNA and there are some deviation among individual human being. It means my micro-biome is not same as yours. Then, if someone introduce a "generic bacteri-ell" to a individual, it may cause to destory his or her own micro-biome which would be worse than weaken biome.
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      May 1 2013: This has been my biggest problem with this bacteri-ell. By bring in a generic singular bacteria we aren't doing that much, since we would only be adding a single microbe like kimboucha. This isn't enough to establish a healthy microbiome. First off i don't know how this one bacteria would be able to out compete the established community of 1000s of bacteria. Then even if we did establish a bacteria, why is this the best bacteria? It could actually be causing problems with some people microbiomes. You would need a variety of different bacteria for establishing in different gut environments based on what the normal diet of the person is. This is the most logical way to create universal microbes that could help establish healthy communities.

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