Cast as our enemies for much of modern medical history, bacteria are now emerging as potential treatments for a range of diseases and disorders.
Over the past decade, researchers have been exploring how the bacteria that live in and on us affect disease and influence our health.
Called the microbiome, this vast and mostly unexplored microbial community contains around 100 trillion bacterial cells and other microorganisms that live (and die) on the surface of our skin, in our mouths and buried in the coils of our intestines, where they are the most diverse and abundant.
This microbiome is unique to each and every one of us, changes throughout our lives and is affected by a wide range of factors, including diet, age, genetics, environment and many more. We now know it plays a critical role in modulating our immune system, and our microbial health is inextricably linked to our overall health.