Crosstalk between individual microbes and the entire cast of immune cells and genes.

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Gut microbiome is a powerful regulator of disease and health and has been implicated in conditions ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to multiple sclerosis. Gut microbes engage in an intricately choreographed conversation with the immune system, stimulating it just enough to keep disease-causing invaders at bay, while at the same time reining it in so it doesn’t mistakenly launch an attack on the body. There are some 100 trillion bacteria, comprising between 250 and 500 species in the human gut.

For the first time, scientists from Harvard Medical School have managed to “listen in” on the crosstalk between individual microbes and the entire cast of immune cells and genes expressed in the gut. The experiments, published Feb. 16 in Cell, provide a blueprint for identifying important microbial influencers of disease and health and can help scientists develop precision-targeted treatments.

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