“Jonathan Eisen [@phylogenomics], a microbiologist at University of California, Davis, is worried that microbiome research will eventually encounter the same backlash. “Without a doubt we are running into some of the same problems as the Human Genome Project,” he says. “There are many people who have oversold the human microbiome as the cause or cure of everything.” Eisen worries that although numerous connections have been discovered between the microbiome and diseases, it is usually unclear whether the microbes caused the conditions or merely exploited a new environment.“There’s sensitivity about the expected returns,” says David Relman, who studies infectious disease at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “We need to be grounded about what it is we’ll be able to gain at what point in time. I think the shorter-term gains may be around diagnostics, and novel ways of classifying both health and disease.”
This article has some great quotes (like above) on caution about the benefits of microbiome sequencing. I also agree with the writer, Ed Yong (@edyong209), that, yes, learning more about the human microbiome is amazing, but we need to not make outlandish claims as to what we will do with that understanding.
Ed mentioned some probiotic studies (an area I have been reading a lot about) and that hype pre-dates all the microbiome hype.
My comment: let’s learn all we can about the microbiome. Let’s see what we learn before we make as outlandish claims as we did in the 80s about knowing all about our genome.
Spot, on, Ed. Thanks for calling this out.