- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
- De Blasio’s wife irks former mansion chef with ‘servant’ remark
- Russia’s neighbors shiver amid Putin’s Cold War moves in Ukraine
- New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional
- Military group can’t march to honor the fallen at Boston Marathon due to security changes
- Senate passes bills deleting ‘retarded’ from laws
- China announces biggest military hike in 3 years: We are not ‘boy scouts with spears’
Tapping citizen-scientists for a novel gut check
WASHINGTON (AP) - The bacterial zoo inside your gut could look very different if you’re a vegetarian or an Atkins dieter, a couch potato or an athlete, fat or thin.
Now for a fee _ $69 and up _ and a stool sample, the curious can find out just what’s living in their intestines and take part in one of the hottest new fields in science.
Wait a minute: How many average Joes really want to pay for the privilege of mailing such, er, intimate samples to scientists?
A lot, hope the researchers running two novel citizen-science projects.
One, the American Gut Project, aims to enroll 10,000 people _ and a bunch of their dogs and cats too _ from around the country. The other, uBiome, separately aims to enroll nearly 2,000 people from anywhere in the world.
“We’re finally enabling people to realize the power and value of bacteria in our lives,” said microbiologist Jack Gilbert of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. He’s one of a team of well-known scientists involved with the American Gut Project.
Don’t be squeamish: Yes, we share our bodies with trillions of microbes, living communities called microbiomes. Many of the bugs, especially those in the intestinal tract, play indispensable roles in keeping us healthy, from good digestion to a robust immune system.
But which combinations of bacteria seem to keep us healthy? Which ones might encourage problems like obesity, diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome?
And do diet and lifestyle affect those microbes in ways that we might control someday?
Answering those questions will require studying vast numbers of people. Getting started with a grassroots movement makes sense, said National Institutes of Health microbiologist Lita Proctor, who isn’t involved with the new projects but is watching closely.
After all, there was much interest in the taxpayer-funded Human Microbiome Project, which last summer provided the first glimpse of what makes up a healthy bacterial community in a few hundred volunteers.
Proctor, who coordinated that project, had worried “there would be a real ick factor. That has not been the case,” she said. Many people “want to engage in improving their health.”
Scott Jackisch, a computer consultant in Oakland, Calif., ran across American Gut while exploring the science behind different diets, and signed up last week. He’s read with fascination earlier microbiome research: “Most of the genetic matter in what we consider ourselves is not human, and that’s crazy. I wanted to learn about that.”
Testing a single stool sample costs $99 in that project, but he picked a three-sample deal for $260 to compare his own bacterial makeup after eating various foods.
“I want to be extra, extra well,” said Jackisch, 42. Differing gut microbes may be the reason “there’s no one magic bullet of diet that people can eat and be healthy.”
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
- Aronofsky's 'Noah' banned in Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates
- AP Exclusive: Man said to create bitcoin denies it
- Back to the Future: HUVr Tech marketing video goes viral with hoverboard release tease
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- First pot business license issued in Washington
- 1M kids stop school lunch due to Michelle Obamas food standards
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. tasks Navy destroyer to Black Sea amid Ukraine tensions
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again