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Stanford, UBiome to Study Microbiomic, Genomic Changes in Type 2 Diabetes

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Stanford University's School of Medicine and uBiome, a microbial genomics company, today announced a research collaboration to study individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A team of experts headed by Michael Snyder, professor and chair in the genetics department and director of the Center of Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford Medicine, plan to explore both the human genome and the microbiome of individuals at risk of developing the disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 29 million Americans had diabetes in 2012. Although type 1 diabetes is the most serious form of the condition, type 2 is the most common, affecting approximately 28 million Americans. Additionally, there are an estimated 79 million pre-diabetic Americans who have a 50 percent lifetime risk of diabetes conversion.

Previous studies in mice have demonstrated that altering microbiomes can lower glucose levels. It's also known that diabetic and healthy patients have differences in the gut microbiome.

"Professor Snyder's lab at Stanford is unquestionably a world leader in the rapidly evolving field of personalized medicine," Jessica Richman, CEO and co-founder of uBiome, said in a statement. "Among other breakthrough research, he and his team plan to make a significant contribution to better understanding the role of the microbiome in diabetes, a condition that affects almost one in ten US adults."

The study will involve collecting regular samples — blood, urine, and fecal samples in addition to microorganism samples in both the nose and gut — from a cohort of 100 participants. Ideally, the researchers would collect patient samples over an extended time, which would include periods of good health and episodes of stress.

"Overall, our longitudinal study is expected to reveal global changes in the microbiome of patients at an unprecedented level of detail and allow us to identify the molecules and pathways that change during viral infections and during diabetic onset and progression," Snyder said in a statement.

"This project, which should greatly increase our understanding of type 2 diabetes, will require timely, precision sequencing of a substantial number of fecal samples," Zachary Apte, chief technology officer and co-founder of uBiome, said in a statement.

Both organizations hope that study findings could lead to a personalized medicine approach to diabetes management.