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Home » Bugs, Drugs and Guts: Pratik Shah at TEDxBeaconStreet (Full Transcript)

Bugs, Drugs and Guts: Pratik Shah at TEDxBeaconStreet (Full Transcript)

Pratik Shah – TRANSCRIPT

I’m going to talk about something we cannot see, and we’re going to visualize it today together. So let me start with a very simple question about who we are.

As a microbiologist and as a geneticist, as a biologist, when I look at all of you right now, I see one human, with 30 trillion bacteria inside you. That’s right, at this very moment, all of us are carrying 30 trillion bacteria. They are invisible, they are amazing, they do stupendous things for us. They help us digest our food, they help us act as sentinels of our immune system, but we never see them.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your microbio. What we know about bacteria and infectious diseases is the dark side of this interaction we have with them, which is commonly known as disease, and we all are familiar with epidemics of plague, cholera, and right now the ongoing pandemic of Ebola that’s going on in Africa, and in our country a little bit, too. So how do these relationship shift from being 30 trillion harmless bacteria to making us sick? And what can we do? Throughout history we have been combating bugs in different ways, and in the 20th century we discovered something called antibiotics. Antibiotics are these small molecules of drugs that you take, you eat, or you inject to kill the bacteria in your body. Unfortunately, they end up killing both the good and the bad, and that’s a problem. While we were innovating, bacteria were innovating too.

They were like, “Oh, OK” So what they did is they became resistant to almost all the antibiotics that we have I had a shoulder surgery five years back, and when I talked to my physician after coming out of surgery, the list of antibiotics I was put on was crazy; I was like, “Wow!” Then he, or she, at that point, they both told me that this is the current state where many bugs that we have now are not treated with these antibiotics that we have.

And the numbers are staggering: every year, 69 million kids die before they reach their fifth birthday. Out of these children, approximately 2 million kids die due to pneumonia and diarrhea, and these are infectious diseases. If you see, there is no Ebola on this slide. We need to start a conversation about managing infectious diseases better in our world that we live in.

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