This past week I have been researching the microbiome and creating a foundation for my project. I have been reading articles and watching videos to understand the importance of the human microbiome and how it affects the individuals health. My goal for this week was to understand what makes a healthy microbiome and how, if possible, to achieve it. I explored the difference between the microbiomes of healthy individuals and those with conditions such as colorectal cancer, IBS, and so on. I found that for these conditions there was no significant difference in the overall community structure of microbiomes, but rather certain microbes were out of proportion for these specific conditions. For example, patients who suffer from colorectal cancer were shown to have an under-represented colony of butyrate-producing species while a certain mucin-degrading species (Akkermansia muciniphila) was found to be in excess. I hope to determine whether probiotics can change the microbiome enough to benefit or even cure such problems. I will be analyzing a dataset of individuals that have gut-associated issues and see which problems were solved with probiotics or that were not affected.
In addition to research I have also prepared my microbiome sample and sent it in to be sequenced to make sure I have enough time to complete a full trial of the probiotic. I also flew to San Diego (where the project will take place) to get lab training and to learn the procedures that I will have to complete in the lab. The sequencing has started for my microbiome and hopefully I will be able to access the results soon.
I will be back next week with more updates!