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Social network wants to sequence your gut : Nature News Published online 8 September 2011 Nature doi:10.1038/news.2011.523 Social network wants to sequence your gut MyMicrobes project will gather DNA data from online community.
Nicola Jones
The non-profit programme MyMicrobes, launched
today, is inviting people to have their gut bacteria
sequenced for about €1,500 (US$2,100). Acting as
both social network and DNA database, the website
offers a place for people to share diet tips, stories
and gastrointestinal woes with one another. In
exchange, researchers hope to gather a wealth of
data about the bacteria living in people's guts.
The same team of researchers showed1 earlier this
year that people fall into one of three groups, or
'enterotypes', when it comes to the genetics of their
The different populations ofbacteria in your gut can have gut bacteria (see 'Gut study divides people into
major impacts on your health, like this Helicobacter pylori thatcan cause ulcers.
"I got between 50 and 100 e-mails from regular people having problems with the stomach ordiarrhoea and wondering if we can help them," says co-author Peer Bork, a biochemistat the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. "They were longe-mails. There must be a lot of frustrated people out there." That response, he says,spurred the creation of MyMicrobes.
So far, the team has found links between certain gut-specific genetic markers andobesity and other diseases. And they suspect that gut enterotypes might affect howpeople react to different drugs and diets. Bork says he was visited by some practitionersof traditional Chinese medicine who wondered whether the three enterotypes mightexplain the three different response groups they see with herbal remedies, Bork says.
"They're convinced it's connected. I have my doubts that it's so simple, but there are lotsof thoughts along these lines." "I got between 50 and The group has been careful not to make promises to project participants. The research is still in its infancy, and there is no regular people having proven link between enterotypes and disease remedies. But the problems with the researchers hope the project will provide a bounty of data while helping volunteers connect with one another. Participants will have access to their own data, but all public results will be 05/07/2012 09:39 AM Social network wants to sequence your gut : Nature News After registering on the site, study participants are shipped a package of informationand a stool-sample kit. They'll mail the samples back to a lab in Paris where the DNA isextracted and sent to Bork's lab in Heidelberg for sequencing.
The actual cost of sequencing the gut genome is about €2,000 per person, says Bork.
Participants are asked to contribute at least €1,451 of that cost, plus shipping. That'smore expensive than, say, the US$207 it costs to have some crucial parts of yourpersonal genome sequenced by 23andMe, a genomics company in Mountain View,California.
The cost difference is due, in part, to the smaller scale of the MyMicrobes operation,and in part to the size of the bacterial genome, which Bork says contains around 5billion letters of DNA, compared to the 3.3 billion in the human genome.
23andMe has no plans to pursue faecal samplesequencing, although the company hasconsidered it. "We talk about dozens of directionswe might take beyond genotyping. That is one[direction] that has intrigued us," says seniorresearcher Joanna Mountain.
Mountain wonders whether data from theMyMicrobes project will continue to indicatethree clear enterotypes as more and more gutgenomes are sequenced.
Bork says that around 100 people haveregistered their interest in the project, thoughnot all of them have committed to the hefty price tag. The researchers estimate thatthey will need about 5,000 participants for the site and the study to be meaningful. "Itrequires a critical number of participants. Just like competitors of Facebook, we mightfail to get that critical mass," says Bork.
1. Arumugam, M. et al. Nature Advance online publication
05/07/2012 09:39 AM Social network wants to sequence your gut : Nature News If you find something abusive or inappropriate or which does not otherwise comply with our Terms
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Comments on this thread are vetted after posting. Interesting idea to have people pay to be subjects in clinical research, as opposed to being paid for it.
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Posted by: Amit kumar
2012-03-17 08:43:08 AM Quite disgusting articles, at least I'm not eating before another hour! Very interesting though! Hopefully those research will help people get healthy!
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