The secret world of the microbiome

We may be familiar with the word 'microbiome', but few of us actually know what it means. Time to explore this microcosm that lives, alongside others, on the surface of our skin.
The story of the microbiome began in 2007, with the American-led 'Human Microbiome Project', a scientific study that opened the doors to a fascinating biological universe !

The microbiome, what is it ?

The surface of our organs is host to a microcosm of beneficial microbes (good germs !). This microcosm comprises of approximately 100,000 billion bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that go by the name of microbiota. Its our own personal, safari park, microbe-style ! These microbes live in optimal conditions, in terms of temperature, pH value, water levels, hormones, exposure to UV... And it's the combination of our microbiota and their environment that make up the microbiome. In the microbiome, microbes not only communicate with each other, but also with the rest of our body.
By closely studying the microbiome, scientists have found that it plays a major role in the health and beauty of our skin. It protects against pathogens and controls a number of biological functions. When this microsystem is disturbed, skin protection is compromised. Inflammations such as acne, eczema and dandruff appear on its surface. This new data only goes to confirm that the skin is an organ in itself. Armed with such knowledge, cosmetics laboratories are currently engaged in formulating creams that work in synergy with the microbiome to maintain a good balance of 'good microbes'.

What does the future hold ?

At some point in time we'll be able to literally dissect the microbiome. This will allow us to manufacture microbes that could be added to our microbiome to balance out our population of good and bad microbes. The hope is that cures for health problems such as obesity, asthma or certain cancers may well emerge. With regards to our skin, in a few years' time we'll be able to sequence the microbiome in order to detect gaps or imbalances that could be regulated by the application of appropriate cosmetic formulae.