15 January 2016

Taming Bacteria

In the past, we've fought head on with bacteria.  Human health greatly improved when we learned to kill bacteria efficiently with antibiotics.  The next breakthrough in human health will occur when we tame bacteria.  

Domesticated bacteria can be used in multiple ways.  One approach is to evolve strains that are less harmful, more helpful, and good at crowding out less desirable wild strains. Infecting our mouths with strains of domesticated bacteria may lead to fewer cavities, less gum disease, and otherwise better oral health.  We will also eventually infect our guts with preferred strains of bacteria.

Another form of tame bacteria will be used for monitoring, diagnosing, and repairing common problems.  We will be able to design bacteria that detect the presence of selected molecules in our bodies.  Detection will act like a switch that causes the bacteria to produce a useful enzyme or molecule.  Our bodies will contain trillions of very simple computers acting locally to make individually minor improvements that will combine to provide major benefits.

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