Business

Using bacteria for good, not evil

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Scott Kirsner writes: “Just as we cracked the human genome and have begun to sleuth out the genetic basis of many diseases, we intend to crack the microbiome — the collection of bacteria and other organisms that colonize the human body — and understand how killing some of them and increasing the numbers of others can keep us healthier.

Here in Boston, we have been leading the way in understanding the composition of the microbiome at places like the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. There are a handful of start-up companies working to develop new kinds of products that, by tweaking the makeup of that bustling metropolis of bacteria, might treat diseases like diabetes, psoriasis, or a range of intestinal disorders such as colitis.

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