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Citizen Scientists Successfully Fund Groundbreaking Startup to Sequence their Microbiomes
Date:1/16/2013

to keep potential pathogens in check and regulate the immune system. Microbes also perform essential functions such as digesting food and synthesizing vitamins.

Some research suggests that microbial activity influences mammalian mood and behavior. Studies have linked microbiome states to conditions including obesity, diabetes, autism, depression, anxiety, eczema, chronic sinusitis, and numerous gut disorders. Infant health appears to benefit from a proper seeding of microbes at birth, with health consequences continuing into adolescence. uBiome allows people to begin to understand how their microbes are affecting their health. It will also allow researchers to ask deeper questions about how this happens.

A decade after the human genome was sequenced, last year marked a major milestone: the completion of the NIH Human Microbiome Project. This project sequenced the genomes of the thousands of species of microbes living in synergy with about 250 healthy volunteers, defining a baseline for what "healthy" means. Researchers are now asking how the "healthy" state itself arises, for instance, how lifestyle, diet, and exercise influence the microbiome, as well as how diseases like Crohn’s and diabetes occur. Sequencing a larger number, and greater diversity of individuals may offer answers.

"We believe the biological information era is going to follow the same trend that the internet did. When citizens became empowered to explore the internet via search engines like Google, usage skyrocketed. With uBiome, people can have cutting edge access to the latest in biomedical science. This is going to change things in a big way," said uBiome co-founder Jessica Richman.

In addition to offering a unique crowdsourced approach to science, uBiome takes an equally unique approach to fundraising, using the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. By pledging support for uBiome, anyone can have their personal microbiome sequenced at <
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