Synopsis of the Lecture


"Helicobacter Pylori: Modern Uses for the Ancient Bacterium"

Professor Barry James Marshall, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine

Although Helicobacter pylori is recognised as the pathogen that causes peptic ulcers and stomach cancer, its ability to colonise more than half of mankind and new evidence that it has infected humans probably for millions of years, suggests that there might be a useful role for this ancient organism.

The lecture reviews the molecular epidemiology of Helicobacter and describes the way that Helicobacter strains can be used to trace human migrations over the past millennia. Consideration is given to the possible benefits of Helicobacter which might have relevance to the modern understanding of human association with commensal and perhaps ¡§near commensal¡¨ organisms such as Helicobacter. New evidence has arisen suggesting the Helicobacter might play a beneficial role in controlling what could be an overactive immune system in the 21st century.

In the context of this new information, a more thoughtful approach might be taken to patients with Helicobacter, judiciously selecting persons for diagnosis and treatment. The 21st century may see the development of new Helicobacter products which can provide the benefits of this ancient human / bacteria association without the more modern pathogenic outcomes.