uBiome Investigates Health Implications of Seniors’ Changing Microbiomes, Seeks Participants

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uBiome, the leader in microbial genomics, has launched an extensive study into the effects of aging on the human microbiome. The company invites seniors to participate in its broader research project while also receiving uBiome’s usual detailed report on the status of their own microbiome across five body sites.

uBiome, the leading microbial genomics company, has announced a major research initiative which will explore the effects of aging on the human microbiome. Experts understand that gut flora undergo substantial changes at life’s two ends. In the first few months of life an infant acquires a set of microorganisms that tend to remain more or less stable through their lifespan.

However, older people experience microbial changes that may have an impact on their overall health. For example, there is often a reduction in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species in a senior’s microbiome. These are generally considered ‘good’ or healthy bacteria. Simultaneously there may be an increase in Clostridium and Enterobacteria, which can be less healthy.

Seniors often undergo nutritional changes as they age, while also experiencing greater disease incidence. uBiome will explore the relationship between these physiological manifestations alongside the evolving bacterial ecosystem, not only in the gut but also across four other body sites: mouth, nose, genitals, and skin.

Seniors interested in participating can learn more here:

Participants in the uBiome senior study will receive a special five-site (gut, mouth, nose, genitals, and skin) testing kit. Samples are straightforward to collect, using a simple self-swabbing process taking just minutes. They’re easily returned by mail to uBiome’s laboratory. Participants will also be asked to complete a brief health questionnaire.

The microbiome is a rich and diverse community of bacteria living in and on the human body. In fact there are ten times as many microbial cells (100 trillion) in this generally well-balanced ecosystem than there are in the entire human body. Its weight amounts to between three and five pounds, enough to fill a soup can. Bacteria in the gut play a vital part in human health, supporting digestion and the synthesis of vitamins. Pathogenic bacteria, however, can also be associated with a range of conditions, some very serious, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease – including both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, esophageal reflux and esophageal cancer, Clostridium difficile infection, colorectal cancer, and many others. uBiome is the world’s leading microbial genomics company, using next generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to generate detailed analysis of the human microbiome.

Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine (Zapata & Quagliarello, 2015) suggest that manipulating the microbiota of older adults might show promise as an innovative way of influencing the development of comorbidities associated with aging. As a first step, uBiome’s study seeks to better understand better how aging affects the microbiome in a large group of participants.

Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome, says: “Advances in healthcare and better living standards are leading to an aging population. By 2060 there will be around 98 million people over 65 in the United States, more than twice the number in 2013. Despite these numbers, we don’t always think about the potential of the microbiome to influence longevity and healthiness. Our study will contribute to a better understanding of this important field.”

For more information about the uBiome senior study, please see:

uBiome was launched in 2012 by scientists and technologists educated at Stanford and UCSF after a crowdfunding campaign raised over $350,000 from citizen scientists, over three times its initial goal. The company is funded by Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and other leading investors.

uBiome’s mission is to use big data to understand the human microbiome by giving users the power to learn about their bodies, perform experiments, and see how current research studies apply to them.

Julie Taylor

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