Did you know that we can find more than 100 trillion of good bacteria in our body? According to a study carried out by more than 80 universities and 200 researchers, humans are made up of more microbes than human cells. Although these figures show us the importance of microbes in our health, the knowledge in that field remained largely unstudied until 2008, when the National Institute of Health (United States) launched a 5-year initiative called the Human Microbiome Project (HMP).

As they claim in their website, “the aim of the HMP is to characterize microbial communities found at multiple human body sites and to look for correlations between changes in the microbiome and human health”. Thanks to the technological advances, the HMP is working with the mission of generating resources enabling comprehensive characterization of the human microbiota and analysis of their role in human health and disease. Bacteria included in gut microbiota is a key part of the HMP research.

Concerning the impacts of health, 15 demonstration projects have been funded to demonstrate hypothesized correlations between the microbiome and human health and disease. From “Diet, Genetic factors, and the gut microbiome in Crohn’s disease” to “The Role of gut microbiota in ulcerative colitis”, among others. Furthermore, a Data Analysis and Coordination Center (DACC) has been created as a repository for all HMP data.

Although it may seem only a great scientific fact (actually it is), the true is that it is having a lot of impact in society as it is changing our perception of bacteria. As BBC pointed out, we now have the largest microbial map. Thanks to the HMP we are understanding that not all germs need to be eliminated and that it is indeed important to take good care of them!

Let’s have a look at the Human Microbiome interactive map!