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Thursday
Sep152011

Social Network for Gut Bacteria?

Medioimages/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- Finally, you can share the status of your gut bacteria with your friends.

In exchange for $2,100 and a bit of “poop,” My.Microbes will sequence your gut microbiome, the genetic blueprints for the throng of organisms lining your digestive tract.

In addition to collecting piles of data for scientists studying gut diseases and obesity, the site promises to connect users with similar gut microbiomes to share digestive issues and diet tips. Whether users will personally benefit from participating, however, remains unclear.

The website also encourages non-participants to donate money.

The hefty fee covers the cost of shipping the stool sample kit and the gene sequencing process. But other gene sequencing services, such as 23andMe, cost a fraction of My.Microbes’ price tag. That, My.Microbes creator Peer Bork told Nature, is because the gut microbiome contains around 5 billion letters of DNA, more than 2 billion more than the human genome.

The people at My.Microbes hope that one day the gut microbiome could help guide treatments for various diseases just as the human genome has personalized some cancer therapies.

For MyMicrobes to generate a meaningful heap of data, it will need about 5,000 participants. As of Thursday morning, it had 134, but not all of them have committed to the fee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio