Makers and takers of probiotics rejoice: a new non-profit program called MyMicrobes seeks to sequence the human gut on a massive scale, all while creating a social network for participants to commiserate on their gut health. You know, like Match.com, except instead of asking you about your favorite foods, you'll most likely divulge which ones lead to stomach upset.
Earlier this year, the same researchers who launched MyMicrobes found that people belong to one of three gut types. These microbial commonalities may point to overall patterns in nutrient absorption, diseases and how people may respond to different drugs and diets, reported The Scientist.
But why has the science gone social? Peer Bork, a biochemist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and co-author of the study said the idea for MyMicrobes began in response to lots of frustrated e-mails from regular people suffering from irregular digestion.
Those interested in participating in the project will pony up about $2,100 to have their gut bacteria sequenced via a mailed stool sample collection kit. The website lists 132 participants so far, and researchers say that about 5,000 people are needed for the study to be meaningful.
Beyond being a bizarre piece of news, those in the digestive health business will likely benefit from the study's results. After all, the more we know about gut health, the better formulated our supplements and foods will be to support it.
As for making friends based on your microbial profile, MyMicrobes says that's optional.