The Atlantic

Treating Disease by Nudging the Microbes Inside Us

We’ve spent centuries trying to kill bacteria. Now, scientists have shown that subtler approaches can work—at least in mice.
Source: Eric Erbe, USDA

In the final decades of the 19th century, scientists showed in rapid succession that many of the worst diseases to afflict humanity were the work of bacteria—germs. Leprosy, gonorrhea, diphtheria, tuberculosis, plague, cholera, dysentery: Barely a year went by without assigning an infamous illness to a newly identified microbe. This concept, where one germ causes one disease, has influenced the way we think about infections ever since, and it implies an obvious solution: Remove the bug, and cure the sickness.

But the links between microbes and poor health can be more complicated. Our bodies are naturally home to

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