Until recently, human microbiology was based on the identification of single microbes, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, frequently isolated from patients with acute or chronic infections. Novel culture-independent molecular biochemical analyses (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics) now allow to detect and classify the diverse microorganisms in a given ecosystem (microbiota), such as the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, the airway system, the urogenital tract and others, and to assess all genomes in these ecosystems (microbiome) as well as their gene products. These analyses revealed that each individual has its own microbiota that plays a role in health, such as in immunity, neurological signalling, biosynthesis of vitamins or steroid hormones as well as the metabolism of drugs. In addition, they greatly contributed to the recent understanding of the role of the microbiome in the pathogenesis of a wide range of human diseases. It is to be expected that these new insights will translate into diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive perspectives in the context of personalized/precision medicine.
Hubert E Blum