Giving access to cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology
Microbes perform essential services for us, helping us to digest food and synthesise vitamins. Not surprisingly, when the microbiome is disturbed or disordered, it can be associated with a range of conditions from asthma to diabetes, autism to depression, irritable bowel and chronic sinusitis and a wide variety of allergies. Until now it has been impossible for anyone to understand and manage this eco-system of microbes. It’s early days. If we can create a huge, citizen-generated pool of data about the human microbiome, it should allow individuals to answer questions about their own health as researchers gain insights into the population as a whole.
There are signs of strong potential demand: 2,500 people between them pledged $350,000 to get the venture up and running, the world’s largest successful crowdfunding campaign for citizen science.
uBiome aims to give the public access to cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology which analyses the make-up of the microbiome and shows how it compares to other samples. Once someone has swabbed their microbiome and sent their sample off for analysis they are guided through an online survey about the their health, lifestyle, demographics, social connections, and more. uBiome sequences the samples and correlates the survey responses to compare different samples and unpick the links between lifestyle, demography, genetics and conditions linked to the microbiome.