Shiraz Shah, a Senior Researcher at COPSAC, or Copenhagen’s Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, uses microbiology to track and analyze the viruses and corresponding health conditions in the two cohorts that the center follows.
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COPSAC currently is following two cohorts (or groups) of children with asthma, one born in 2000 and one born in 2010. The research center is trying to figure out why asthma occurs. Asthma is the most prevalent disease in children as well is the most common reason children see doctors and are being medicated. COPSAC is using microbiology and data analysis to understand why.
Dr. Shah explains that the center is measuring everything that they can about these children, from when they started daycare to the food they eat to their respective genomes. The prevailing theory centers around the immune system attacking its own body and corresponding inflammation.
Examples of single-study findings include one where mothers who take extra fish oil while pregnant have kids who were a third-less likely to develop asthma. He describes other similar findings but ultimately there’s no overarching finding at this point.
Dr. Shah also describes what microbiology can discover from collecting data on the viruses and bacteria present in these children as they try and understand if, in one example, asthma is really five different diseases with the same physical effect. He explains how viruses dominant our earth and each living organism.
As our understanding of bacteria has evolved over the past several hundred years, he describes how our understanding of viruses is also changing and explains how intimately involved they are with human evolution.