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Visiting genetics scientist: Bacteria can be used to heal

Bacteria from a healthy person can be transplanted to an ill person to help them recuperate. Visiting Jamaican-born Prof Karen E Nelson, president J Craig Venter Institute, explained this was one of the strides being made in genomics, which is the study of the collective genetic material in an organism.

Nelson made this comment at a lecture themed Genomics Advances—Vast Implications for Improving Human Health and the World Around Us at Noor Hassanali (former president) Lecture Theatre UWI, St Augustine Campus, on Thursday. It was hosted by the Faculty of Science and Technology/Faculty of Medical Sciences, Genomics Advances. Nelson was accompanied by Tim Stockwell, assistant professor Viral Informatics, who also shared his expertise on topics like sequencing.

Expounding on bacteria transplants, Nelson said, “You can take bacteria from a healthy person and give it to a sick person and the sick person would get well. We don’t understand it but the sick person gets well. A lot of bacteria are starting to emerge. “There are huge problems. They are resistant to and invade humans. We are looking at different ways to alter the medicine that is provided. We are seeking to increase understanding of the complex diseases, health and understanding diseases.”

Nelson cited Mali, Africa, as a stomping ground for malaria studies. Nelson said a population that gets affected impacts upon the likelihood of somebody getting malaria. “Malaria season in Mali is intense and sharply demarcated,” she added.

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