QA Science: The Microbes Shaping Our Lives
29
August

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


(upbeat electronic music)
(audience applauds) – Well here we are again
(chuckles) literally. Thank you Donata. That was a great lecture. I was saying that
we had some great discussions prior to
this lecture because the sort of thinking about
the microbiome sort of changes what it means in a way
to be human in a way. And I wonder, knowing this
knowledge that you have, how does this change
your perception of yourself as a human or your daily life? Does it change that? Does it alter it? – As a practicing scientist, there is the pragmatic
part of my brain that tries to focus
on the experiments and what needs to be done. But certainly, the larger
question of what this means is there and is critical. I think personally the sense I get is
that if anything, we are probably
even less in control than we thought we were. And we have to be more
subtle and more aware of how we behave in a
broad sense and what we do. Because we have to
take into account these entity and entities
and what we do to them with our behaviors
and our choices. At the same time, I
have to say as now my. I am very proud of
the fact, in a sense, that we have got to the point that we have become
aware of this. And there is something
that I want to say because I think it’s important, particularly to this audience. I think it’s an
amazing privilege for a working scientist to live and work and
operate at a time when a whole new kind of
causality is discovered. When I went into biology, we thought about DNA. We thought about
molecular biology. We had done physics
and all these things. And we thought we would go
deeper and deeper and deeper. But I don’t think
anyone had the sense that there was this
enormous iceberg out. This thing out there that
no one had any suspicion of. And so it’s an
incredible privilege to be able to do science now because I think that
this is going to change fundamentally
everything we know. As simple as that. And we have to be
open-minded about it. – Excellent so we’re
just gonna start taking some questions. We’ll start here with
Jordan in the front. – So I have two questions. The first question is, during your talk, you
had talked about how the first year of life
is really important for the microbiome.
– Yes. – Why is the first year
of life most important? And what happens later
on in life if say, I as a 19-year-old were to go and live on a farm for a year? Would I receive the same
benefits as a newborn? Or would it be
completely different? – If you think about
it for a moment, you don’t need me to tell you why the first year is important. I think it is
intuitively the case that when an organism, small
or large doesn’t matter, develops, you have
a series of choices that during development
can be made. And certainly, you have
many more choices early on than you have later on because you have to develop. You have to go from a single
cell to a whole organism. And so the first year of life is an approximation. It could be eleven months. It could be 13 months. I mean it’s not
technically the first year. But it’s the very first
phase of our lives. Because this is the time when the things that matter for, at least for the
type of discourse that I was trying
to have, to discuss. Namely that the immune system,
the respiratory system, all those things, that’s
when they develop. And that’s when therefore
you have a chance to send them one
way or the other. Now would you as a 19-year-old have a benefit from going
and living on a farm? Some of these experiments
have been done. And it depends. And the reason it depends again, it makes a lot of sense
if you think about it. If you are already allergic and you are sensitive to certain
things in the environment that, for instance, are
very abundant on a farm, going to a farm is
not such a good idea. Like it is not, if
you are sensitive to certain pollens, go to a field where the flowers that have
that pollen are abundant. If not, certainly
some, even as adults, some studies have
reported some benefits. But it is by no means comparable to what you can achieve if
this happens early in life. So I would say
the first year of, at most of the first six, I wouldn’t want to
push it much further. – And then my
second question is, during your talk, you focused on gut microbiotica quite a bit. Why is there such
an emphasis on that? And are there other
areas of the body that are also being
focused on in the same way? – Very good question. I focused on the gut
because the gut is by far the largest niche for microbes. It’s the first
that gets colonized and seems to be a little bit the conductor of the
orchestra, you could say. On the other hand, I didn’t have time to
get into all of this. But every single part of our
body has microbes essentially. Not inside of our brain, but the brain
receives metabolized that are shipped and that
travel in blood and in fluids. And so there is
very active research on microbes in the skin
and microbes in the airways and microbes
everywhere essentially. So this is an
exploding field now in every part of the body yes. – Thank you.
– Thank you. – Let’s go over here,
start here from the front. – So with you saying that
you’ve been a part of this groundbreaking study,
have you found yourself doing things to
change your lifestyle? Have you found
yourself using less hand sanitizer to increase
your microbiomes in your hand or in your palms? Have you changed your life
because of what you know? – I’m a doctor. And so I was already extremely sparing in my use
of antibiotics, except in extreme situations. And so if possible, I
would say that even more. But again, when they’re
necessary, they’re necessary. And in terms of, (sighs)
I wish I was young enough to really change my trajectory by cleaning my
hands more or less. So I don’t think that. If I had small
children around me, that would be a different story. But for myself, I don’t think
that unfortunately in a sense that could change very much. – So for the 18, 19 year
olds of us in the room, is this something that you
would recommend that we change, having so much of
our life ahead of us? – I think that what
we need to understand, what we need to change
is our awareness that these things matter. And so for instance,
the notion that we have to sanitize
the environment so
extremely as we do, that notion is probably wrong. And in fact,
allergists are probably among the most clear examples of really not having
got it for many years. There was a study done
years ago in Australia where allergies were rampant. And so somebody had the idea of basically eradicating
all the allergens from the homes of
these children. And they called them
the allergen police. They sent people to
clean these homes beyond imagination. They put these special
pillowcases, special mattresses, special this, special that in a number of study homes. They followed these children, I don’t remember
for how many years, after which the study
had to be interrupted because these children
were much worse off than all the other children. So I think that that
speaks for itself right? – Thank you.
– You would hand the mic back here? Before this question,
I wanna just quick comment on something you said. I think that it’s
common for people who have really bad infections to possibly take
antibiotics by IV. I know this has
happened to me before. Do we know, understand what happens after that event? I mean is there
just a catastrophic mass extinction event
that occurs in the body? And how do we recover? What do we know about that? – So first of all antibiotics still save lives. And let’s not think that. Because the decrease in
mortality that has occurred with hygiene and
antibiotics is real, and we should by no means try
to go back to that situation. – Absolutely.
– It would be criminal to do that. Now antibiotics should be
as targeted as possible. The ideal antibiotic
is the magic bullet that only kills the bug
you want to get rid of without touching the others. This is a total idealization. It’s not possible. And the reason why
it’s not possible is that these bugs
live in communities. And they help each other. They create niches
for each other. They make things for each
other that are necessary. So if you perturb a community,
you perturb a community. So it’s a matter of a
cost-benefit situation if you have something that
threatens your well-being in a serious way, even more
if it threatens your life, if the choice is between
dying and being alive. The microbiome is
incredibly resilient. It’s also incredibly resilient. So we have to rely on that. And we can probably, learning
more about it in the future, make it even more resilient, find ways to make
it more resilient. So the mass extinction is
probably not entirely permanent. But probably you can
bring levels down enough that now the level of
pathogenicity is not high. – Interesting.
– That’s the way it is. – So this whole area of
research is relatively new and really really exciting. And all these studies say that your gut microbiome
can influence your mood or your weight and
things like that. Have we found any solid
causative link between either a certain set of
microbes that are essential or one microbe or
phylum or something that’s responsible for
each of these effects in any of the studies? – Yes yes we are beginning to. Now again, we are
talkin’ about studies that have been published in
the last two, three years. You realize that. So this is pretty much an
evolving field where you cannot. The field is not mature enough
to say, “Okay this boom.” But we start
understanding a lot about the relationship between certain microbes and disease. And the way to
understand this is that it is not the microbe per
se that is causing disease. It’s what the microbe produces. It’s the metabolites
that are produced. And so these metabolites are. They’re really like hormones. You realize that. Because they are produced
very often in the gut. But they can go
everywhere in the body. So part of the reason
why this is so powerful and so over-important or
all-important, I should say, is because we don’t
need to postulate that in order for
microbes, for instance, to influence the way
the brain functions or the mood is, they
have to be in the brain. Because they’re not. All they have to do is
produce stuff that gets there. And of course this is
incredibly complicated. But we are starting to see
that there are relationships. And in fact, we know
that, for instance, there are individuals who
have these terrible infection with a particular
microbe that is close to the the fistula. And those individuals
are basically not tractable with anything. And they are very
seriously at risk because they get dehydrated. And they have this
horrible diarrheas, and they are seriously
at risk for their lives. And the only thing
that you can do, that seems to work, is that
you basically clean them up very heavily with antibiotics. And you give them stools that restore a normal
flora in their guts. And now these people are cured. And this seems to be working. – Over here, go ahead.
– So my question is, if microbiomes are going
to be used for forensics, then are the germs on my hand
always gonna be the same? – Ah that’s a very
good question. – Are they always
gonna be there? – That’s a very good question. No no but from what we know, your microbes will
always be your microbes. And the strength there
is not going after the individual microbe
but the community and the group of them. And the reason why somebody
has all of a sudden become aware that this
can be used for forensics is that, as I said,
we humans have only, give or take, 25,000 genes. But these bugs are trillions. And so there is almost
an endless possibility to go deeper and deeper
and deeper and deeper until you really nail it. So even though
there is certainly variability, depending on time, depending on so many
things, or where you are, there will be invariants that would make your
microbes yours and not mine. – Why don’t you hand the
mic right next to you Jerry, and we’ll hand it back. Go ahead. – So you mentioned
how different microbes in the microbiome can
determine whether or not someone might get asthma
or Crohn’s disease. Can this be used to
prevent these diseases? – Ultimately we think so. This is why we’re doing, this we’re doing with the Amish. We think that what is in the
gut of these Amish children is actually protective. And so obviously, once
we need to find out what. We need to find out how. But when we do, that
is something that one can hope to
use as a prevention because these children
are not cured. These children never
get the disease. So absolutely. That’s exactly the idea. – Over here, why don’t
we hand the mic back, and we’ll kinda work it
back here on both sides. Go ahead Eric. – I’m thinking of the
immigration slide. And so we talked a lot about, and if I’m understanding
this right, you get exposed as a child. And it leads your development
in a way that you have this stronger immune system,
if I can say that. And so these people
come to wherever. They immigrant. They were comin’ to
the U.S. in that slide. So do we have any
hints as to why their microbiome is being
wiped out when they’re here? And at the same time, go ahead. – Go ahead.
– At the same time, they came in with
that diversity. Does that mean that they
have a better chance of bouncing back which kind
of addresses his question? It’s okay to take
some antibiotics since you had that previous. – So what we think
is going on is this. The people who come, come
with their microbiota, with their microbes, with
their bugs in their guts. They may change it a little bit because they usually
change their diet. But in the end, when
you get to be an adult or an adult immunologically, your microbes are your microbes, unless something
catastrophic happens. That’s what it is. The changes occur
in their children. Because their children, so that’s a generational thing. And that’s why it takes
approximately two generations. But within a couple
of generations, whatever population
migrates to whatever place takes on the profile of diseases that are typical of the
places they are, they went to. And that’s because within
a couple of generations, they get their pioneer
taxa from their mothers. And their mothers
might be a little, still carrying some of
the original microbiota. But now they are
in this new place. So now the interaction between what you get from
the inside let’s say and what you get from the
outside is completely different. And by the next
generation, bye-bye. And that’s why, in the end,
the microbiome changes. And now we know
that that’s the case because the data are there. – Send the mic back. Hand it to Able. Then we’ll come back over here. Go ahead. – So I have a question
on your experiments. So with the germ-free mice and you put in the
bacteria into them, so wouldn’t the bacteria
actually harm the mice because they don’t
have an immune system to regulate and protect
against the toxins created by the bacteria? – (chuckles) See you’re. These are bacteria
from healthy children, completely healthy children. So these mice are much happier. In fact, once they get these
bacteria, they gain weight. They grow much better. They are no longer scruffy. Their fur is now
nice and no longer. They don’t smell anymore. And that’s because we need. Every human, every
creature probably needs these microbes. And so far from being harmed. Now what would happen if
I gave them pathogens? That’s a different story. But these are healthy bacteria. – So there is a
distinction between healthy and not healthy.
– Absolutely as I said, far
from me to say that all bacteria are good. There’s bacteria
that are dangerous. You don’t want to
have tuberculosis. You don’t want to
have pneumonia. You don’t want to have all the
things that Jose Munoz saw, all those types of things. Certainly not. And for those, thank
God we have antibiotics. We use them. We take care of them. But this is a infinitesimal part of the bugs that
exist out there. That’s the point. – Let’s go over here. Who’s got the mic in the back? Go ahead Amy. – [Amy] What do you see
as the possible effects of the massive use
of antibiotics in
commercial livestock? – Very bad (chuckles) obviously. You will happy to
hear possibly that both Amish and Hutterites don’t use antibiotics
with their animals. And so more traditional
farming is antibiotic-free, not deliberately, I
mean just because that’s the way it is. I think that it’s a problem. And I think that
these type of studies (coughs) can provide
very rational arguments for in fact limiting
this type of treatments of the animals. Because they will
end up backfiring and harming us as well as them. – Go ahead.
– So in your lecture, you mentioned that
there’s been research done on how the microbes in our
bodies can influence our mood. So I was just
wondering, do you think this research can be applied
to the field of mental health? – I definitely think so. I think that this is a. This is an emerging field. I think that this is
a situation in which the relationship with the
microbes is as I said, occurs probably at a distance, through things that are produced in the body and then
travel to the brain. But to the extent that
that’s the case, absolutely. Again I may be (coughs)
over optimistic. I don’t think so. I think that. I don’t think so. I think that by the
same token by which immunology and inflammation
have become part of essentially every
aspect of medicine. There is no aspect of medicine that doesn’t have to come
to grips with inflammation. It can occur anywhere
and everywhere. I think that microbes
will have to be considered as a
factor, as an entity in the way we reason
about everything that happens in biology. As simple as that. Or as complicated as that. – Just to follow up on here. And then, we’ll go
back to the back row. There seems to be
this chaining form. You say, okay inflammation
is obviously an issue. A lot of treatments are focused on the reduction
of inflammation. We know that exercise, for
example, is extremely healthy. And exercise can in some
sense reduce inflammation. We know that exercise also,
correct me if I’m wrong here, it leads to a
healthier microbiome. – Yes yes yes.
– And so you see this sort of–
– Yes it starts comin’ around. – It’s comin’ around on itself. – Yes absolutely. – What are your
thoughts on this? Obviously there’s
probably more here I could add to
this sort of chain. – Again I feel a little bit like
Alice in Wonderland. Because we are, I’m
not exaggerating. We are discovering
a whole new world, the possibilities and
implications and ramifications of which we do not
yet understand. It’s too recent. It’s too soon. We need to study. We need to look. We need to be careful. And we need to be aware. I don’t think we can
have all the answers. It’s too early. But all of what you raise, these are issues that
need to be considered. I’m not trying not to
answer the question. I don’t know how to
answer specifically. What I know–
– Sorry if I was asking a question either.
– No but I think the point is that we have neighbors
that outnumber us, the existence of whom or
which we’re not aware. What do you do with that? – Send the mic back. Go ahead Michelle. – Hi so you mentioned the use
of forensics and microbes. So how do you think using
microbes in forensics will change as
technology advances? – I think it will become. It might very well
become a mainstay of how forensics is done. Because in the end, when you do forensics,
what you want to do is have as certain as possible
an identification of someone of something,
essentially someone, something living as
having been a presence in a certain place. And so the more elements
you can bring to bear, to have that certainty, the
higher that certainty can be. So again in humans,
however unlikely, there is the possibility
that at least for the things that
are normally looked at, two individuals come to
be, may be very very close, especially if they are related. In the case of microbiome,
even if you are related, microbiomes are different. And if anything, just the pure
complicated reality of it, the numbers, the sheer
numbers are so high that you’re going
to find differences. And if you do, so I think
it’s going to be obviously technically complicated. But you know, technology
is advancing so rapidly. I mean we sequence
now in two days what took 10 years to
sequence, only five years ago. So that is going to be a
trivial limitation of our time. – [John] That’s incredible. Let’s go in back. Yeah go ahead.
– Hello I also was struck by the
chart of the different microbiome types in different
populations in the U.S. And then, you mentioned
how quickly those microbiome types change
within a generation. I was thinking that we
would have co-evolved with the microbiomes so that
our ancestral microbiomes would have been
something that would have led to our health. But if things
change this quickly, do we have no connection
to microbiomes of 1,000 years ago or? – I don’t know how much people have yet looked at microbes in say in archeological
specimens or things like that, to know what our microbiota
of our species were 1,000 or 2,000 or
more years ago. But I would imagine, and the data about migrations
demonstrate very clearly that the microbiome is an
extremely plastic entity. And since I think we
can easily argue that the living conditions
of our species have undergone enormous
changes in history, I think it’s stands to
reason that probably our microbes have
also changed a lot. I cannot support that. But I think that this
would be my prediction. – Let’s go over to Nora. Hand that mic over to Van. Oh Jack you can go next
then Van then Nora. Oh so Nora first
then Jack then Van. Let’s go like that. We got a lotta demand here. Go ahead.
– All right so piggybacking off the
previous question, I wanted to ask about how, like what are the
similarities between family members and
their microbiomes? Are there any similarities? – Oh yeah.
– Or is it based of their external
environments and
external exposure? – All of the above. So (clears throat)
if you come and spend a month at my house, the microbes in my house
and the microbes on me will take on some of your
microbes and vice-versa. And if I buy a puppy
and I have a dog, some of the dog’s bugs will
become part of my microbiome and vice-versa, which is why I was saying that
it is such a plastic entity. However each of us has some. Fundamental properties
of our microbiota are thought to sort of mature by the time that we get adults. But certainly, if I go to China or if I go to a
very different place or even if I go to Mexico
where the diet is so different, even though the
place is so close, my gut microbes are
going to change. So it is at the same
time, if you accept that, consistent but also plastic. But then, to the extent that it is induced, for instance,
changes are induced by diet, the idea is that
then they revert when you go back to
your normal life. So again, it’s a plasticity, but it’s a plasticity
that is in the context of your own biology. And therefore, somehow you
and your super organism, metaorganism are what they are by the time your
reach a certain age. – Jack you got the mic.
– So given the absence of Danish and Amish cows
in the neighborhood, with your research
with local households, what are you seeing
are the benefits in the Southwest here? And is the information that
you’re coming up with now, is that making its way
down into pediatricians and how they advise new
parents on raising their kids? – In Europe,
especially in Germany, a lot of farms are being
turned into kindergartens. And not kindergartens
just because of how the buildings are
designed and shaped, but because the idea is
that the children go there and spend time with animals. So the idea of that is
becoming very pervasive. I don’t see this
happening here yet. As far as the
Southwest is concerned, we have another
extraordinary example here of something that is
not that dissimilar at least conceptually
from what you see in the Amish and in
the Hutterites and is the very massive differences
in asthma prevalence that we see in Mexican
Americans living in Tucson and Mexican living in Mexico. The Mexican living, not
deep in Mexico, in Nogales. Mexicans living
in Nogales, Sonora have three, fourfold less asthma than Mexican Americans
living in Tucson. And in fact, we’re
going to study that. We just submitted a
big grant to study that because we think that the situation is
not that dissimilar. We think that genetically,
probably these individuals are very similar to one
another, to each other. But what is probably the
difference is the type of environments in which they live, the microbial loads but also
the water that they drink and all these type of things. So we are going to study that. – Is that affecting how we
talk to parents about kids now? – I would assume that over
time, this will happen. Again this is very recent. The primary papers that
describe all of these effects are a couple of years old. So it takes time
before these things are percolating sort of down. But as I said, in other
parts of the world, they are already sort of
thinking along these lines. – Let’s hand the
mic over to Van. I think I promised
him the next question. Then we’ll work over. – So we talked about the
impact that animals can have. And I was wondering. Each person here has
different microbiomes. But how do those compare to
the different microbiomes of different animals? – They are quite different, so much so that you
can, in fact, tell if somebody has been
in contact with a cow. You will find that there will
be some cow-derived microbes that you can detect. You know. The microbes are different. The microbes are different. – But it’s not a big enough. Well it’s a difference,
but you can still use those in terms of medical
and medicine right? Because you talked about
how they can affect. So it’s very different,
but you could still use ’em for medicine? – Yes yes yes, not only they can probably very happily find
shelter in our bodies. In fact, they do. And so it’s not that because
they originate from a cow, they can not then
be hosted in us. No no no no. But if you describe, so
to speak, in a static way the communities that exist in the poop of a
cow and in mine, they’re probably different. But that doesn’t mean
that a child who grows up close to cows will not
be able to incorporate part of those microbes
in a very good way. In fact, this is probably one
of the sources of diversity and the properties that
will protect this child, yes absolutely.
– Let’s hand that mic over there. We’ll work it up. Hand it so Sarah first. But before you
actually hand the mic, I just have a quick
question here. You’ve talked about
poop tonight– – Yes.
– in your talk. You’ve also mentioned that
that can be introduced to a person. Or that the biome
source from that can be introduced to a person. How’s that?
– How? – Are we talkin’ about
brownies or a cookie? I don’t know. How do you do that? – So I can tell you that. So in the animals,
it’s very easy. You do it by gavage. You put it directly
in the stomach. But in humans,
there are treatments with fecal transplants in
the C. difficile infections. And what they do is they put the stuff in a little capsule. And you just–
– Oh then it’s just. – You just pop. You don’t know what
you’re ingesting. – Interesting.
– And with just one of them, you give so many. So they go straight where
they should go poom. (audience chuckles)
– Sarah. – So I had a question about
the parents discussion for raising their kids. So I had a lot of. I spent a lot of time
volunteering up in Phoenix. And a lotta parents, whenever
they would bring their kids to where I volunteered, all
of our kids it seemed like had either a gluten allergy
or were lactose intolerant. And they had all
of these allergies that I’d never seen such
portion of kids have. And I was wondering, what
advice would you give to parents such as these ’cause I
also know a lot of them were very protective
of their kids and wouldn’t let
them do this or that or be exposed to
anything abnormal? – May I ask you a question in turn?
– Yes. – Were those allergies real?
– (chuckles) – That’s the problem
is I don’t know. – No no let me–
– I understand what– – Let me qualify because
if you read the newspapers, it seems that we are in
the midst of epidemics of this and epidemics of that. And then, when you go and look and you do this objectively, which is why I
ship to my friends to do measurements objectively,
that’s not the case. And especially
this gluten thing. I will not. I want to. I want to take the fifth here. But I mean there is a whole
industry thing that is. Now everything is gluten-free. I mean there are
companies that will not be against the shameful idea of saying that water
is gluten-free. Now excuse me. Excuse me, since
when do you expect to have gluten in water? And so how can you say
that water is gluten-free? So hmm, that said, that said. I realize that the idea
is counterintuitive. But it is potentially
precisely because these kids are so overprotected
that they are not okay. And maybe if these
kids were a little, had been a little less protected and had been roaming the
land a little bit more, it may not have been a bad idea. That said, there are
also children who are genetically programmed to have
extremely serious allergies. And that’s a different story. But even in those cases, even in those cases, certainly trying to make
sure that their microbiome is well-balanced and is as
close as possible to normal would be a good idea. So I feel for you because that must
have been difficult to deal with. (chuckles)
– (chuckles) Hand it to Nora please. Then we’ll come over here. You’re next. – Okay so with more
research going into environmentally-based
microbiomes, do you think that this
will be used one day to kind of address
global health issues and different health problems that occur in different regions, to introduce microbiomes
from different regions to try to correct those? – Potentially. I am not sure what
you have in mind. But if you imagine that. If I were to swab,
if I just were to swab this (taps
countertop) thing here that I don’t even how to define. (audience chuckles) I would find that there is
a ton of microbes there. There are tons of
microbes on this chair. There are tons of
microbes everywhere. So sure potentially you could
engineer the environment. Engineering things
is always dangerous in a certain sense and certainly to
engineering things before we know exactly
what we’re doing. I would caution
against engineering before we have a sense of
what we’re going to do. But for instance, I can tell
you that there are people who try to use, and
that’s a good thing to do, to use microbes, soil microbes, to limit the very
bad consequences of mine tailings in certain
places here in Arizona. There are places
where vegetation, everything has been
completely destroyed by mines and everything that
those mines have accumulated. And they are trying to bring
back some of the soil microbes to make sure that
now the soil can again metabolize, if you
allow me to use this term, all of the stuff. And so this is an example of
how an environment might be cajoled into getting a
little bit back to normal after we ourselves have
made all possible efforts to alter it, so yeah. – Right here.
– So that ties perfectly with my question because I was going to
ask if you’d be willing to make any predictions for us about the future, knowing that
microbial health in humans and the environment
are so closely tied. And our environment is changing. And the way humans are
living is changing. What do you foresee happening, and would that be
offset at all by our new and emerging awareness
of this world? – That’s a big question.
– It’s a big question yes. I think that would be that we
will have to set priorities because probably we will go. We need to go after the most. The most urgent questions
probably will always be about diseases and things like that. But then, at the same time, I think that people
will hopefully. Look it’s so hard to
predict what people will do because as we heard no
longer than two weeks ago, and I don’t want
to offend anybody, but there are people who doubt
that climate change exists. And so the people who doubt
that climate change exists probably, for instance, I
think that in terms of mindset, may have some trouble
imagining that you have to do something to preserve or
at least be respectful of your microbial environment. I mean the people who
go, “Drill baby drill,” I don’t know how respectful
they would be of these entities. So that’s why it’s hard to predict what the society
will do as a whole. Certainly I think
that over time, we’re going to develop
tools to do these things if we want to use them. That’s a different story. I hope we do. – Let’s do two more questions. Yeah Jake I want you to–
– We have an extraordinary
audience, I have to say. – (chuckles)
– I could stay here forever if I were not as hungry as I am. (audience chuckles)
– I think that’s why two more. – That’s all right. It’s fun.
– Go ahead Jacob. – So I’m from Fresno, California which is a. It’s kind of a Huttite. Or what was the name of
the, besides the Amish, the–
– Hutterites. – The Hutterites, it’s kind
of a Hutterite situation where we have a lot of high
tech agriculture come in. But not necessarily are we
putting our kids next to a lot of animals. And yet we get all this
air pollution that’s causing a lot of
asthma and allergies. – Sure.
– And almost to the point where our second
biggest industry is these asthma centers that
are all dotting our city. So do you? This is kind of a followup to the previous person’s question. But do you expect that
we’re going to have treatments almost like vaccines where we’re gonna be giving microbiomes to children and
introducing it to them early if we know that they’re
gonna be growing up in an area like this? – (sighs) We do science
to understand things. We cannot expect miracles. Microbes are living
things right? So if you create an environment that either kills or
alters those microbes. (exhales) To imagine,
you could hope that you can then
engineer some microbes that if you put them in
that same environment, won’t be affected. But I mean it’s a
pretty long shot. In other words, what
I’m trying to say is that the game-changing
aspect of this whole thing in my mind is that we could
come to the realization that certain things have
certain consequences. And that because they
have certain consequences, now you can move to
behaving differently. Vaccinations for
sure, I think that. In a sense, you could argue that the Amish children
are vaccinated by the fact that they are. And so are the Bavarian children that they from
very very early on, they are exposed to
these things that rebalance their immune systems. But I don’t know
that the solution is then to throw them
into a place that has all the pollution and so. In other words, all these
things should go together. But certainly certainly,
the fact is that even in environments that
are at very high risk, there are individuals
who resist those risks, who are not, who do
not fold under the dangers of those risks. So it means that
you can protect. And I think that
probably it will turn out that microbes that
have a lot to do with protecting
those individuals. And therefore, probably
we can use those things once we know how they work. – So in a clinical
sense, introducing our own preselected
microbes into a patient might have a lot. Our microbiomes
are very complex, so it might have unforeseen
consequences negatively. – Sure and again, we are the dawn of this, the dawn of a new era here. And there are a lot of
things we don’t understand. One thing that we understand qualitatively still,
not quantitatively, but we understand it
at least as a concept, is that microbes don’t come
as individual entities. They come as communities. They come as packages, as
troops, communities really. And that’s because
of the way they live and grow. So the notion that you
can take a single microbe and solve a problem
by giving that microbe is not gonna work even. I was mentioning the C.
difficile type of treatment. And there, this is a
particularly aggressive strain and everything else. And you give microbiota. Over time, some of
these patients relapse because if you don’t have
a niche that supports a good growth of
many communities. Diversity seems to
be so important. Now diversity makes things
difficult clinically because it means that you
cannot transfer a single thing, that you can grow, put it in a pill (claps
hands), and give. So we have a lot to learn. – Thank you.
– All right final question Josh. – First of all, just
on behalf of all of us, thank you so much. It’s given us a new
perspective of what we are. I appreciate that.
– Thank. – Second teaching
is really hard. I think everybody in this room is probably gonna
agree that it’s hard. And I think there’s a lotta
reasons that people leave teaching in the first
couple of years. One I think it’s that
they get sick a lot and that traditionally, teachers are at the
front of the room. People are talking at them, speaking to them
in that direction. And also I’m not sure man. Should we be shakin’ hands,
fist bumpin’, bowing. What should we be
doing and like? What’s an appropriate way
to say hi to our students? And should we change up the
paradigm of the classroom and how we teach in it? – Look I was born, and
I grew up in Italy. And you go to school in Italy
when you are six years old. You don’t go to. At least in my time, you
didn’t go to kindergarten as much as children do here. So first five years of my life, I was with my parents,
with my friends. But I was sort of
probably quite protected. I went to school when I was six. And the first three
months of school, I was home sick for 45
days out of three months. I was basically
sick all the time because I had not been
exposed to anything. I was a social case. I was sick all the time. And that was the first
trimester of the year. The second trimester, I
was sick probably a week. And from there on poom. I mean that’s what immunity is. So getting sick is fine. I think that the point is that
getting sick is totally fine. It’s how you train
your immune system. And the point is that
you shouldn’t get sick to the point that. And your children should
not get sick to the point that that gets out of control. But the fact that all
the children get sickened with rhinovirus,
all these things, I mean it’s part of how
the immune system develops. So I don’t think that that’s, that one should be over careful. And in fact, the children,
I’m sure you’re aware of this data, in the
case of asthma, one of the strongest protective
factors against asthma is to have been at not kindergarten but. I’m sorry; I’m
blanking on the name because now I’m tired. Essentially child care
early on, day care. Ach so day care. Children who go to day care early, very early, they
have more infections. So if you look at infections,
they have more infections. So they’re not healthier in the sense that they
have less infections. But they have, for
instance, much less asthma than children who don’t. And you know why? Probably because they
get all these microbes from the other children. And so it’s a balance between being exposed to
infectious agents, but also training
your immune system in such a way that
ultimately, you’re better off. – So are you saying we
should thank our students for getting us sick?
– Yes. – No–
– I’m just kiddin’. (chuckles) – I’m saying that you are. No I think that the
students should thank the other students and you because you are the microbial
environment in which they are. And these things
need to go around whether we like it or not. And as long as they
are not out of control, sorry pal, that’s the way it is. – [Jacob] Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
– Thank you. – Thank you.
(audience applauds) – Thank you, thank you.
– We’re gonna continue this. We’ll be back next week
with QATI and more on the microbiome and extending
this discussion for sure. – Yeah this is a
fantastic initiative. So congratulations to you and
to you all for doin’ this. Thank you.
– All right. I’ll see everybody, thank you.
(upbeat electronic music)


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