Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Books

Living in a microbial world

The fascinating role of the microbiome in our health comes under the microscope.

Book cover of 'I contain multitudes: the microbes within us and a grander view of life'

I contain multitudes: the microbes within us and a grander view of life, by Ed Yong. Pp 368. Price £20. London: Penguin Random House UK; 2016. ISBN 978 1 847 92328 8

This is an examination of the microbes that live within us and all around us. The author, renowned British science journalist Ed Yong, states that, according to the latest estimates, there are 39 trillion microbial cells to our 30 million human ones. His book will leave you wondering how much of ‘you’ is really ‘you’.

Over recent years, awareness of the importance of the human microbiome has increased. It is widely acknowledged that it plays a role in health and disease; however, the full extent of that role is only starting to be uncovered. Yong follows the science of microbiology from the first description of ‘animalcules’ in 1675 to the leaps and bounds afforded by gene sequencing and genomics. He investigates how the microbiome can influence disease, the immune system, our response to drugs and even our mental health, and how tweaking your microbiome could potentially be used to improve health or cure disease.

Beyond pro- and pre-biotics and faecal transplants to alter the gut microflora, scientists are also using bacteria to improve human health in different ways. One particularly fascinating section describes loading mosquitos with bacteria to block the virus that causes dengue fever, with the aim of eradicating the disease. In the era of ‘anti-bacterial everything’, it is eye-opening.

Beyond our own health, microbes are also shaping and influencing the environment, and we get a glimpse of the impact they have on the wider world. Yong writes about his subject with great clarity and passion, opening up a hidden world to the reader. It is a truly compelling read.

Emma McConnell

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202929

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Book cover of 'I contain multitudes: the microbes within us and a grander view of life'

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.