Martin Blaser

  • Aired:  05/12/14
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"Missing Microbes" author Martin Blaser describes the threats associated with the overuse of antibiotics. (6:44)

(APPLAUSE)>> Jon: WELCOME BACK, MY

GUEST TONIGHT THE DIRECTOROF THE HUMAN MICROBIOME

PROGRAM AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITYHIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED

MISSING MICROBES: HOW THEOVERUSE OF ANTIBIOTICS IS

FUELING OUR MODERN PLAGUES.

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

MARTIN BLASER, SIR!

(LAUGHTER)

SORRY.

MISSING MICROBES THIS ISSOMETHING THAT WE HAVE HEARD

ABOUT FOR SOME TIME.

BUT THERE'S APPARENTLY AGOOD DEAL OF SCIENCE BEHIND

THE IDEA THAT I SHOULDN'T BETAKING Z-PAKS BECAUSE I'M

TIRED.

WHAT IS THE OVERUSE OFANTI-BIOTICS, WHAT HAS BEEN

HAPPENING?

>> YOU KNOW, ANTI-BIOTICS AREMIRACULOUS.

THEY HAVE SAVED SO MANYLIVES.

BUT WE'VE BEEN USING THEMMORE AND MORE AND MORE.

AND WE HAVE REACHED THEPOINT WHERE MAYBE WE'RE

DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

>> Jon: HOW DO WE KNOW?

BECAUSE IT'S VERY DIFFICULTFOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND

THAT DOING SOMETHING, YOUSEE THE SAME THING WITH THE

ANTI-VACCINE CROWD.

THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THATTHEIR BEHAVIOR IS EFFECTING

A MUCH LARGER GROUP BECAUSEIT'S NOT IMMEDIATE AND IT

DOESN'T AFFECT US.

>> WELL, TAKING ANTI-BIOTICSHAS A LOT OF EFFECTS.

ONE OF THEM IS LIKE WITH THEVACCINES, IS THAT IF YOU TAKE

ANTI-BIOTICS IT'S GONNA MAKEALL THE BACTERIA IN THE WORLD

RESISTANT. IT'S GOING TO MAKEIT HARDER FOR EVERYBODY ELSE.

BUT WHAT I AM ESPECIALLYCONCERNED ABOUT IS THE FACT

THAT ANTI-BIOTICS ESPECIALLYFOR YOUNG CHILDREN IS MAKING

THEM MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO ALLTHESE DISEASES THAT HAVE

BEEN RISING, DIABETES, OBESITYALLERGIES, FOOD

ALLERGIES.

>> Jon: BUT THAT'S THE PART IDON'T UNDERSTAND. SO LET'S

SAY MY DAUGHTER GETS STREPTHROAT.

HAS THE LITTLE SWAB IN HERMOUTH, COMES UP POSITIVE.

YOU ARE SUGGESTING THAT THATMIGHT NOT ACTUALLY BE A REAL

STREP INFECTION BUT IT JUSTMAY BE THAT THERE IS A

COLONIZATION OF STREP NOTCAUSING THE SYMPTOMS.

>> YEAH. SHE IS-- SHE'S ATLEAST CARRYING STREP. WE KNOW

THAT EVERY WINTER 20% OF THEKIDS ARE CARRYING STREP.

IN THE SUMMER IT GOES DOWNTO 10%.

SO IF YOU RANDOMLY CHECK THETHROAT OF KIDS, 20% OF THEM

ARE GOING TO BE POSITIVE.

SO WE DON'T KNOW A PRIORI IFTHAT'S WHAT'S CAUSING HER

INFECTION.

>> Jon: I WOULD NOT LIKE TOHAVE THE JOB TO RANDOMLY

CHECK KID'S THROATS BECAUSETHAT IS, THAT IS THE THING

IN THE DOCTOR WHERE YOU GO,YOU CAN HOLD HER ARMS AND DO

THIS.

WHEN WE DO THAT, YOU KNOW,YOU MENTION OBESITY,

ALLERGIES, ASTHMA.

TO ME IF THOSE ARE NOTBACTERIAL INFECTIONS, HOW IS

IT THAT USING ANTI-BIOTICSWOULD HAVE ANY EFFECT ON AN

ALLERGY.

>> BECAUSE, BECAUSE OF THE HUMANMICROBIOME.

BECAUSE MOST OF THE CELLS INOUR BODY ARE BACTERIA.

AND WE'VE HAD IT SINCE WEWERE BORN AND OUR MOTHERS

GAVE ITS TO US AND THEIRMOTHERS.

AND THEY'RE DOING IMPORTANTJOBS FOR US.

>> Jon: NOW YOU WRITE, IT'S10 TO 1, THAT WE ARE

OUTNUMBERED IN OUR OWN BODIES -->> YES.

>> Jon: CELLULARLY 10 TO 1 BYBACTERIA.

>> YEAH. AND THEY'RE HELPING US,TRAINING OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM,

HELPING US DIGEST FOOD -->> Jon: RIGHT.

MAKING VITAMINS FOR US.SO WE NEED THEM.

THEY'RE GOOD FOR US.

AND IF WE KEEP PILING ON WITHTHE ANTI-BIOTICS THAN WE ARE

SUPPRESSING THEM.

AND SOME OF THEM ARE GOINGAWAY, PROBABLY FOR GOOD.

>> Jon: CAN'T WE JUST IN THEWAY THAT YOU TARGET IT --

YOU KNOW, CANCER TREATMENTIS VERY SIMILAR, CHEMO KILLS

EVERYBODY. CANCER CELLS BUT ALSOALL THE HEALTHY CELLS.

ISN'T THERE SOME WAY THATTHE ANTI-BIOTICS CAN BE USED

TO KILL THE STREP BUT THERECAN BE SOME WAY OF

REJUVENATING THE MICROBIOMETHAT THAT WAS DOING ALL

THOSE OTHER JOBS?

>> WELL, THAT'S WHAT WE NEEDTO DO.

WE NEED TO MAKE NARROWSPECTRUM ANTI-BIOTICS.

WE HAVE BROAD SPECTRUM THATATTACK EVERYTHING.

BUT WE HAVE THE SCIENCE THATWE COULD DEVELOP NARROW

SPECTRUM ANTI-BIOTICS THATWILL JUST TARGET THE ONE

ORGANISM, MAYBE IT'S STREP,MAYBE IT'S A DIFFERENT

ORGANISM -->> Jon: RIGHT.

>> BUT THEN WE NEED THEDIAGNOSTIC SO THAT SOMEBODY

GOING TO A DOCTOR THEY'LL SAYYOU HAVE A VIRUS, YOU HAVE A

BACTERIA.

IF YOU HAVE A BACTERIA,WHICH ONE IS IT.

>> NOW, ISN'T THIS WHERE THEGENOME TYPE PROJECTS WILL GO

ON, BECAUSE FINDING THEGENETIC MAKEUP OF THESE

BACTERIA, WON'T THAT ALLOWUS TO TARGET THESE THINGS

MORE SPECIFICALLY?

>> YEAH, WE HAVE SO MUCHGENOMIC INFORMATION, WE CAN

HARNESS THAT TO MAKE BETTERMEDICINE.

>> Jon: SO, WHY -- OKAY, LET'SDO THAT.

>> YEAH.

SO WE HAVE TO RIGHT NOWANTI-BIOTICS ARE SEEM TO BE VERY

INEXPENSIVE. AND DOCTORSVISITS ARE VERY INEXPENSIVE.

>> Jon: YES.

BUT IF WE'RE NOT DOING THERIGHT THING THEN ULTIMATELY

IT'S GONNA COST US MUCH MORE.

>> WHO WOULD DO THE THINGYOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, COME

UP WITH THE TARGETED-- ISTHAT DRUG COMPANIES, IS THAT

IT CAN ONLY ON DONE THROUGHTHE CDC?

LIKE WHO WOULD DO THAT,WOULD YOU DO IT, CAN I ASK

YOU TO DO IT NOW IN FRONT OFUS? WHAT, WHAT --

HOW IS IT THAT WE TAKE THATON?

>> THAT'S, THAT'S WHAT WE NEEDTAXES FOR.

THAT'S OUR TAX DOLLARS, JUSTWHEN WE NEED TAXES TO BUILD A

ROAD THAT EVERYBODY USES.

WE NEED TO DEVELOP THE DRUGSTHAT OUR KIDS AND OUR

GRANDKIDS ARE GOING TO USESO THAT THESE EPIDEMICS CAN

BE STOPPED.

>> Jon: LET'S SAY SO COULDTHERE BE A MANHATTAN PROJECT?

SINCE THAT'S THE CATCHALL FORTHESE TYPES OF, YOU KNOW,

WE'RE GOING TO PUT US ON THEMOON.

SOME WOULD SUGGEST IN TENYEARS IS THAT A REALISTIC

GOAL?

>> I THINK IT IS. I THINK IT IS.

WE NEED BOTH DIAGNOSTICS AND WENEED NARROW SPECTRUM AGENTS.

AND WE HAVE TO CHANGE THEECONOMIC BASE OF HOW WE

ASSESS ILLNESS IN KIDS ANDHOW WE TREAT KIDS, HOW WE

PAY DOCTORS SO THAT WEREALLY VALUE THAT MORE.

>> Jon: SEE, WHEN YOU THREW INTHAT LAST PART, THAT MAKES

ME FEEL LIKE OH THAT WILLNEVER GET DONE.

BUT THE SCIENCE PART OF ITFEELS LIKE IT COULD.

BUT THE SYSTEM'S END OF ITFEELS LIKE IT'S IN-- IT'S

MUCH MORE RECALCITRANT THAN THEREST OF EVERYTHING ELSE,

MUCH HARDER TO MOVE.

>> IT IS HARD TO MOVE.

BUT THAT'S WHY I WROTE THEBOOK.

>> Jon: SO THIS BOOK IS --(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)VERY, VERY INTERESTING.

SO YOU'RE OPTIMISTIC.

>> YES.

>> Jon: AND YOU DON'T MINDTHAT I'M STILL GOING TO TAKE

ANTI-BIOTICS AND USE PUREL.

>> OF COURSE THAT'S YOURDECISION.

>> Jon: ALREADY MADE.

MISSING MICROBES IS ON THEBOOK SHELVES NOW,

IT'S FASCINATING STUFF, THANKYOU, SIR.

DOCTOR, NICE TO SEE YOU.

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