The balance of bacteria in your gut can make the difference between sickness and health — and now scientists report that different species of bacteria share immunity genes to protect themselves against each other’s toxins and maintain their balance of power.
In effect, closely related species of bacteria acquire each other’s defense systems to fend off threats from alien invaders.
AUSTIN, Texas — Can probiotic bacteria play a role in how well your memory works? It’s too early to say for sure, but mouse studies have turned up some clues worth remembering.
Preliminary results suggest that giving mice the kinds of bacteria often found in dietary supplements have a beneficial effect on memory when it comes to navigating mazes or avoiding electrical shocks.
BELLEVUE, Wash. – Seattle-area entrepreneur Naveen Jain is ramping up Viome, a wellness monitoring service that’s the first venture brought to life by his BlueDot innovation factory.
Viome blends readings from your blood, urine, saliva and stool samples to develop a profile of your biochemistry, as well as the microbes in your digestive system, and then feeds that profile into a smartphone app that spits out personalized recommendations for diet and lifestyle.
That basic model is the foundation for a widening array of wellness ventures, including Seattle-based Arivale as well as Ubiome in San Francisco, DayTwo in Israel and at least half a dozen others. But Viome CEO Jain and his fellow executives are banking on a technology they’re licensing from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to analyze the human gut microbiome in unmatched detail.
The White House has unveiled more than half a billion dollars’ worth of public and private programs aimed at unraveling the mysteries of microbes – and Seattle’s Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be contributing more than $100 million to that National Microbiome Initiative over the next four years.
The initiative, announced May 13, will take advantage of the key role that microbial communities, also known as microbiomes, play in our gut as well as in agriculture and global ecosystems. Research into the workings on microbiomes could lead to new treatments for diseases, better crops and a healthier environment. Microbial transplants are already being used to treat conditions such as C. difficile, a debilitating bowel disease.
“Clearly, applications are critical. Ultimately the promise of the microbiome has to be realized,” microbiologist Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said at the White House kickoff briefing.
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat who is also a trained microbiologist, said the scientific payoff “is going to be like splitting the atom, I think, when you get all this done.”