The company uBiome offers people a unique way of understanding their bodies and their well-being by identifying and analyzing the diverse microbial populations that inhabit the skin, nose, mouth, genitals, and gut. uBiome helps individuals understand how their specific microbiome functions and how it operates in fighting disease and boosting immune functions. The importance of a properly functioning microbiome has been demonstrated in several recent studies. In one laboratory experiment, scientists raised mice without any bacteria-supporting microbiome. These germ-free mice were not healthier than their normal counterparts, despite producing large numbers of natural-killer T cells. These immune cells typically play a vital role in safeguarding against pathogens and viruses. In the mice without a microbiome, the excess T cells resulted in inflammation and caused conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. These findings have parallels to studies of children given high levels of antibiotics, who were relatively likely to develop asthma and allergies later in life.
Focused on leading edge citizen health research, uBiome offers people the opportunity to map their microbial composition. UBiome’s accurate analysis of the microbes that inhabit the gut, sinuses, genitals, and skin provides citizen scientists with tools toward understanding the connection between health and the microbiome. One area of current research is the link between the gut microbial ecosystem and autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease. The latter condition combines genetic and environmental factors, with a trigger being gluten. Only 10 percent of people with a genetic predisposition for the condition develop celiac disease after gluten exposure. In defining why celiac disease only affects a small percentage of susceptible people, scientists increasingly look toward the role of the gut microbial ecosystem. A study undertaken at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston tracked 30 infants with celiac disease genetic predisposition, aged 0 to 24 months. The study found that these infants had gut microbiomes that matured less quickly and were not as stable as control-group infants. In addition, infants who were introduced to gluten at one year of age were less likely to develop gluten antibodies than those who were introduced to gluten at age 6 months. This ongoing area of research demonstrates the potential links between the microbiome and human health.