TED Conversations

Anna Crist

student researcher , University of Oregon

This conversation is closed.

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”?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 1 2013: There are about 200 hundred kinds of baterias which will contact human body, some of them stay on our skin for a long time like living in our skin, some of them just "visit" our skin occasionally. Actually, the bateria is the part of our bodies, if there is no bacteria exist, human can't live. Some bacteria on our skin will cause disease, but some of them are very benifit for human being. Staphylococcus, streptococcus, propionibacterium and corynebacterium are the four main bacteria on human's skin. I'll talk about the staphylococcus a little bit. Only if this bacteria go into the inner memberane of human's skin, it will make the inflammentory reaction and damage our bodies. Otherwise, it won't hurt people. Few years later, some researchers found something new. The metabolite of staphylococcus will inhibit the inflammentory reaction and it will be controlled by the keratinocytes of the staphylococcal lipoteichoic acid. If we over wash our hands by using the Purell, the metabolite of the staphylococcus will be wash out, which is not good for human. But we need to explore more and more in this area.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.