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Even as drug makers are poised to introduce actual medicines to change a person’s microbiome and make them healthier, there’s a lot we don’t know about the billions of organisms that live inside us. We don’t know all their names, let alone everything they’re capable of doing.

In a deep new report, STAT examines what we do know about this field — the science powering this new array of therapies, the companies already charging toward new drug applications, and, critically, the many challenges still to come.


“We’re still really on that steeper part of the learning curve,” said Barbara Methé, who worked on the sequencing efforts of the Human Microbiome Project.

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