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Selective breeding of bio-companions

pick your friends wisely
  (+8, -1)
(+8, -1)
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There was an idea called Friendly Parasites, that got deleted, that inspired this one.

Humans and other living things are often colonized by other, smaller life-forms. We (each individually, and collectively) are an ecological niche. A lot of people are freaked out by the idea of having parasites, but keeping an ecological niche vacant may be more difficult than choosing how to populate it. An example is gut bacteria that helps us break down food, which can be destroyed by antibiotics, or replenished by live yogurt. On the dark side, the most common is Toxoplasma gondii, which infects an estimated 20-60% of humans and is linked with increased risk of madness, death and other harmful effects.

It may be that there are many beneficial bio- companions, or ones that, while still harmful, displace or compete with others that are worse. Western medicine, which concentrates on dysfunction, has led to investigation of the most harmful 'bugs', but the best of our companions may escape notice simply because very healthy people avoid doctors and medical researchers.

So this idea is for a clinical study, which measures the overall fitness of individuals, who are also 'polled' to characterize the flora they harbor (swabs, blood samples, etc), and correction for the effects of lifestyle (diet, smoking, exercise) and heredity..

If clear winners emerge, they could be cultured and encouraged.. even bred like other pets. The testing might be a little scary..

afinehowdoyoudo, Dec 24 2009

NIH Human Microbiome Project http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/hmp/
[swimswim, Dec 24 2009]

mind-altering bacteria http://www.scienced...08/110829164601.htm
[afinehowdoyoudo, Aug 30 2011]


       //Toxoplasma gondii//   

       Well. I think that Mohandas deserves better then that.
DrWorm, Dec 24 2009

       This, I think, is a very good idea and, if it's not already being done (and I don't think it is) would make a very nice grant application.   

       Probably the most fundable way to do it (not necessarily the best, but best suited to current research modes) would be as a metagenomics project.   

       There are already numerous programmes to simply sequence all the DNA found in various environments (the ocean; sulphur springs; hot vents), and use this shredder- bucket of data to try to reassemble the diversity of organisms therein.   

       I am pretty sure that there are "gutome" projects, doing this for gut flora.   

       However, as far as I know, the gutome projects don't attempt to correlate their data with health (I may be wrong). Also, they will miss anything outside the gut.   

       I don't know how you'd do this. The most unbiased way would be to take a whole person, immediately after death, and do a whole-body DNA extraction (preferably also RNA, to catch RNA viruses), then sequence the crap out of it. The problem with this is that very minor species (for example, those present in only a subset of tissues) will be very under-represented, and you'd have to sequence to a truly awesome depth to find them. Still probably doable now or soon.   

MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 24 2009

       // very healthy people avoid doctors and medical researchers //   

       Have you considered that you might be confusing cause and effect with that statement ? Is it not equally possible that these individuals are healthy precisely because they avoid doctors ?   

       [+] none the less.
8th of 7, Dec 24 2009

       @ MaxwellBuchanan,   

       If you extracted whole body DNA, and then mixed it really well per organ/tissue type, you could find the under-represented species pretty easily, still.   

       A species might make up just 1/100,000,000th of your body mass, but 1/10,000th of your gallbladder or wherever it specializes.   

       If you have a soup of DNA in a jar labeled "gallbladder," then it requires much less sequencing to find the target. In other words, you sample the tissue types that initially indicate higher biodiversity (e.g. gut) more intensively than other tissue types (e.g. bone).   

       At the end of the day, even if you only sequence 1 million cells, you might have a 99% chance of having caught at least once sample of a 1 in a million species instead of ~50%, because your odds per sample for that species are much higher than overall, due to the targeted sampling strategy.   

       Also, you must consider that even if we don't get everything, this is still a useful project, at any scale. Even if we only find 2% of useful organisms available in healthy people, by cultivating and distributing those, we can still do a lot of good. So you don't need to find EVERYTHING for the idea to work anyway.   

       Yes, I realize this is 1.5 years old.
Smurfsahoy, Aug 30 2011

       Yes, organ- or tissue-specific sequencing would be more sensitive. Also, short-read sequencing is now so cheap that this is quite easily doable. (On the other hand, the read-lengths are so crappily short that you'd only really be able to pick out parasites which were either very abundant or already sequenced - but that might be good enough.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 30 2011

       The probiotic bacteria LKM512 is published at PLoS one as more than doubling the longevity of mice.   

       Other areas that support [AfHdyd] idea are that people can apparently have their geneology traced through commonality of skin bacteria going bsack milennia. Thus one could try finding the healthiest mice anywhere, coating them with nutrients, then spreading that bacterial culture onto sterile culture rodents, with another group of sterile culture rodents at a far lab getting their surface bacteria from their surroundings   

       If the longevity or wellness benefits persist then you have found another well being group of bacteria.   

       sometime during the 20th century someone found a virus or bacteria that made birds gain weight, its possible there is a noncrummy keep thin bacteria or virus out there as well that would keep mice or people thinner, providing well being benefits.   

       Also I have heard of what I call "recreational TB" apparently people that want to pale n skinny get this on purpose as a kind of "diet plan" I think they should start with the recreational TB bacteria then see if they can create a version that keeps animals from getting cardiovascular disease as a result of skinniness.   

       One idea I have thought about putting up here is engineering staphlococcus aureus to make chemicals published as causing creatures to heal twice as fast. That way even opportunistic nfections from local bacteria would benefit the person. Goop from alginate chitosan as well as ginger extract are both peer reviewed published as doubling the rate of healing thus it is possible that staphlococcus aureus that makes hyalonuric acid(easier) or even possibly chitosan (more complex) as well as possibly the amplifier version of siRNA to whatever cytokines ginger extract promotes could make a surface bacteria that causes people to heal twice as rapidly.
beanangel, Mar 12 2012

       //The probiotic bacteria LKM512 is published at PLoS one as more than doubling the longevity of mice. //   

       If I read the paper correctly, not giving LKM512 resulted in the mice dying at a much lower age than is normal for their ilk. It's a dodgy paper.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2012

       //sometime during the 20th century someone found a virus or bacteria that made birds gain weight//   

MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2012


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