About The MSA
What is a Microbiome?
The human microbiota is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live in and on an individual’s body. Many of these microbes are beneficial to the host and aid in the body’s natural processes (like digestion, for example). The genomes of these microorganisms are called the human microbiome.
There are ten times more microbe cells than human cells in a given individual’s body. This collection of bacteria, fungi and archaea, consisting of about 100 trillion cells, plays an important role in an individual’s health.
Every human has a unique makeup of these microorganisms, specific to that person. Many of your microbes are acquired from your mother during vaginal birth, but your makeup will change throughout your life based on the people and places you encounter.
Research is beginning to show that this makeup influences many health factors ranging from obesity and diabetes, to depression and anxiety, to maybe even some forms of cancer. And it’s not that specific microbes are causing these disorders, but often a lack there of, or perhaps the wrong combination, we’re not sure yet.
Many microbiologists and medical professionals (and even some anthropologists) are currently studying the ways in which our microbiota affects our health. Experiments with fecal transplants, which alter an individual’s gut bacteria, are being done to treat digestive tract diseases. Many research groups are building large databases from bacteria samples taken from thousands of individuals. Though this research is still in its infancy, some very exciting ideas are emerging, and so are some important ethical questions.
The MSA is interested in the stories your microorganisms tell about you. Since a human’s microbiota shifts over time depending on the different environments, foods, people, pets, etc. that he or she engages with, your microbiome becomes a language that tells the story of your life. If properly collected, analyzed, and essentially “translated” could your bacteria reveal this information to the world?
This has not been proven possible yet, but research has shown that a person can be linked, with a high degree of accuracy, to a sample of bacteria they leave behind. As this knowledge advances and as the technologies are refined, the question of personal privacy might be an important consideration.
The MSA is an organization that works proactively to help you maintain your personal privacy. By manipulating your own microbiota, the power to control your own data and personal information at a biological level lies with you.
The Microbiome Security Agency
The Microbiome Security Agency (The MSA) investigates the future of microbiome privacy issues and prepares citizens for a future where our personal information is at risk through our biological datasets.
Your microbiome is a unique composition of bacteria, forever in flux. It changes based on the environments you come in contact with, and has the potential to function as a record, revealing information about the people and places you’ve encountered. In a future where our privacy is threatened by the traces of bacteria we pick up or leave behind, how do we insure the security of our personal information?
Empowering citizens to secure their own data, The MSA researches and prototypes future scenarios, systems, products and processes for choosing your own microbiological privacy settings.
The MSA will help you make informed decisions about when, where, and how to manipulate the makeup of your bacteria.
We will explore a variety of methods for securing your microbiome data. See our Research to learn more.