Today’s "Overselling the microbiome award" Crohn’s Disease and Bacteria

Uggh.  Just read this: Specific bacterial species may initiate, maintain Crohn’s.  Basically it reports on a paper that showed a correlation between bacterial taxa and early Crohn’s disease.  The paper makes a big deal out of showing a correlation in the severity of pediatric Crohn’s and the types of microbes found.  Good.  That is useful.  But here is the thing.  It is a $&*#($@(& correlation.  They have NO IDEA if this is the result of the CD or the cause (or both).  To go around pushing the idea that this is about bacteria initiating CD is misleading.

The news release says “The work may ultimately lead to treatment involving manipulation of the intestinal bacteria.”  True.  The work may ultimately also lead to my screaming.  Oh wait.  It did already.

For more on Overselling the Microbiome see some of my other posts

As I have said many time.  I believe the human microbiome is VERY important.  I believe it probably plays a role in all sorts of human issues – health and disease.  But we need to be careful not to be misleading about what we know and don’t know … 

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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