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TechStream looks at new technologies being developed at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. If you’re interested in knowing what tomorrow’s technology will look like, then check back here frequently.

Lab Technology Spans New Research Opportunities

Berkeley Lab spin-off success Second Genome is joining an initiative by the American Gut project to “explore the connection between the human microbiome and type 2 diabetes.”

Originally named PhyloTech, Second Genome spawned from the research made available by the PhyloChip, developed by Berkeley Lab’s Gary Andersen. The PhyloChip is “a tiny DNA microarray that can identify, within hours, over 50,000 different microbes without the involvement of a single petri dish.”

Berkeley Lab's Gary Andersen and the PhyloChip

Berkeley Lab's Gary Andersen and the PhyloChip

The chip’s original mission included detecting oil-digesting bacteria in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill plume and cataloging microbes in diseased coral beds near Puerto Rico.

“By working with the American Gut project and its preeminent group of microbiome scientists, we have the opportunity to accelerate the clinical impact of this citizen science effort to build the world’s leading reference dataset of microbiomes,” said Peter DiLaura, President and CEO of Second Genome in their announcement back in January. “Second Genome is focusing on patients with type 2 diabetes as one part of its effort to translate microbiome science into the discovery and development of microbiome modulators with therapeutic potential.”

The American Gut Initiative

The American Gut Initiative

The American Gut Initiative is building the world’s largest database in a community driven effort. They’re using Indiegogo to help raise funds and interest in the effort.

When asked what he thought of Second Genome’s newest venture, Berkeley Lab’s Andersen said, “I guess the most interesting aspect of this story is how we broadened the access to the work of our laboratory, and specifically to the Berkeley Lab PhyloChip, to other researchers to aid in their work.”

American Gut’s broad citizen science network for sample collection, for example, includes Berkeley Lab scientist Janet Jansson, who’s been researching the human gut for more than 15 years.

The pioneering work by Andersen and the successful efforts of Second Genome have helped American Gut build the world’s largest open-source, community driven, effort to “characterize the microbiomes of everyday people in order to understand the connections between environmental factors and microbiome changes.”

Patients with type 2 diabetes may just be the first of many to benefit.

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