Microbes are everywhere, and the ones in our bodies appear to be incredibly important for our health. They’ve developed intricate relationships with other living systems, feeding on chemicals in their environments to produce other chemicals—some of which are more beneficial to nearby organisms than others.

Getting microbes to work for us has been a tantalizing prospect to scientists for decades. Can we tweak the genomes of these microbes to control exactly which chemicals they break down or produce, for example? What if we could get microbes to help us reduce pollution, or create microbes that make medicines?

The good news is that new technologies are bringing us ever closer to making engineering microbes to benefit our health and environment a reality. Experts say we could be as little as four years away from human treatments. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Jessica’s story is from The Checkup, her weekly biotech newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

If you’re interested in reading more about microbes and microbiomes, why not check out:

+ Bacteria can be engineered to fight cancer in mice. Scientists have engineered microbes that appear to prevent or treat cancer in animal tests, and human trails are on the cards. Read the full story.

+ Your microbiome ages as you do—and that’s a problem. Our guts are home to a complex ecosystem of bacteria. Can we tweak it to stay healthy as we age? Read the full story.

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