Nicolae Morar spoke at Central Oregon Community College last night on “Our Microbes ARE Us: A Conceptual Ecology of the Human Microbiome.”
Recent discoveries regarding the sheer number and diversity of micro-organisms on and inside each of us are now being joined by sophisticated studies revealing that these mirco-organisms play startling roles in determining who we are as individuals. Our microbiome affects our health, behavior and thinking and can even influence how much we eat. Dr. Morar will discuss how these recent discoveries present us with a real challenge of who we are as human beings. He will talk about how this alters the most common conceptions of health and disease and the host of legal and ethical issues that have come with it. http://www.cocc.edu/foundation/vsp/
Nicolae Morar published Perspectives in Bioethics, Science, and Public Policy, and Between Foucault and Derrida.
After his excellent lecture I got to talk with Dr. Morar for a few minutes. Our conversation went very quickly from C. diff to fecal transplants for curing that disease process, created by a micro-organism imbalance in the gut, to other derivative things. I proposed that people should store their own feces before they took antibiotics so they could restore their own intestinal balance after their disease was hopefully cured with antibiotics; he liked that idea and had already been thinking about proposing it himself or perhaps even advocating the idea. I don’t want to suggest he said things he didn’t say, but he did say that the most effective therapies should be the ones that focus on quarantine and hygiene rather than on the use of antibiotics. That is exactly the position I had been blogging about in my posts on how to contain Ebola. As obvious as quarantine is, and the effectiveness of separation of the disease virus from people, it doesn’t seem to have much traction with the World Health Organization (WHO). It is politically difficult for them to even propose quarantine, let alone enforce it because it violates individual rights. Somehow, a person’s civil rights are more important politically than vast numbers of people dying from an epidemic. Only after an epidemic is killing large numbers of people is it possible to forcibly isolate sick people from the public. Before a catastrophe is in progress WHO only suggests that people go to a hospital or stay home if they are sick, but doesn’t even suggest enforcing those obvious things.
Dr. Morar and I moved on to discussing people routinely storing fecal material when healthy, even before being sick, which is rather like having a backup to a previous stable state on one’s computer. I then mentioned my Earth Ark Project for saving the Earth’s seeds on top of Antarctica where the temperature is never warmer than -40°C, and suggested to him that, following our line of reasoning, it would make sense to store everyone’s, even every animal’s internal microbiome at the Earth Ark. He said this was similar to what a group called American Gut was doing. That project seems more limited.
We need a Universal Gut of the whole Earth’s microbiome stored in Antarctica.
[Update 2015-10-14] The New York Times published today Should We Bank Our Own Stool? Which discusses the fact that fecal transplant was used 60 years ago with success, and the idea of storing one’s own feces for reintroducing a previously healthy state was then suggested. It is horrifying that nearly a million children die per year because of diarrhea. Their lives could probably have been by having healthy biome reintroduced by their mothers. This tiny bit of knowledge would save lives.