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Old 10-23-2012, 03:56 AM   #189
Anti Hero
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Phoenix
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Default Fungus Inside Us: A New Health Frontier?

The big, weird world of creatures inside you may be even bigger and weirder than anybody thought.

Fungi are the latest addition to human menagerie, joining bacteria and viruses in forming the teeming, biological kingdom-spanning superorganisms of our bodies.

“We were all fascinated with the diversity and sheer mass of microorganisms that live inside our intestines,” said immunobiologist David Underhill of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “So we started asking: What do we know about fungus in the gut?”

In a June 8 Science study, researchers led by Underhill and postdoctoral student Ilian Iliev link gut fungus to colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

While the findings may be presently useful to colitis researchers, the implications are sweeping: Scientists might ask the same questions of internal fungi as they do internal bacteria, the importance of which is now a buzzing research frontier.

In the last decade, researchers have linked resident communities of bacteria — which outnumber human cells in a body by 10 to 1 — to diseases and fundamental processes, from diabetes and heart disease to metabolism and immune system function. Even viruses are in on the act.

Appreciation of this so-called microbiome represents a sea change in awareness of bacteria: No longer are they external entities that sometimes cause disease, but rather an essential, positive component of human health.

Whether fungi also play a part is a question relatively few researchers have asked. A handful of studies have suggested a limited role, primarily in skin and mouth conditions.


It's weird how often you don't think about the things that live inside us that keep us alive. With out the flora that lives in our guts, we're dead meat (literally).
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