Microbial science company Seed Health announced a new partnership with digital health company Atmo Biosciences to study a new method of measuring microbiome activity.
The centerpiece of the study is the Atmo Gas Capsule, which is said to be the first ingestible sensor technology to track location-specific gases through the human gastrointestinal tract.
Seed will use the capsule in a series of upcoming clinical studies on their flagship probiotic, the Daily Synbiotic. The first study will piggyback on previous studies and measure both the effects of antibiotics on the entire GI tract, and how the use of specific strains of probiotic bacteria may benefit the GI system during and after antibiotic therapy.
"While antibiotics are a key frontline tool to treat and eliminate infections, they're also known to negatively impact the diversity and function of the gut microbiome as reflected in the variety of side effects they cause," said Dr. Gregor Reid, distinguished professor at Western University and Lawson Institute Chair of Human Microbiology and Probiotics, and Seed's Chief Scientist. "As a research and clinical tool, this device will contribute greatly to learning how interventions, including probiotics, alter the gut microbiome's activity and metabolic readouts."
Technology in a capsule
The 28mm Atmo Gas Capsule uses sensors to measure key gases present, including hydrogen and oxygen, and is up to 3,000 times more accurate than breath tests. More biomarkers like methane, hydrogen sulfide, and short-chain fatty acids are currently being developed.
The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will include 64 healthy participants between the ages of 18-55.
The data will be collected in real-time and be transmitted every 6 minutes for up to 5 days. The information will be electronically reported via Bluetooth to a mobile phone for ease of monitoring by users, researchers, and clinicians. Collectively, these new biomarkers empower researchers to gain objective, insight into patient gut health for diagnosis, treatment, and how interventions like antibiotics, probiotics, and food may impact gut function.
Once the capsule has passed through the participant’s gut, it then exits naturally and can be flushed. Additionally, throughout the study, urine, vaginal swabs, fecal and blood samples will be collected.
Pioneering human gut health
The capsule is especially exciting because most gut microbiome studies have heavily relied on stool samples, which is more reflective of the colon. Other diagnostic methods such as aspiration, biopsy, breath tests, endoscopy, motility pills, and imaging pills are highly invasive, costly, or carry other clinical limitations.
"Despite over a decade of human microbiome research, we are still limited by the technologies available to measure and understand real-time activity in the human gut," said Raja Dhir, Seed Health co-founder and co-CEO. "We are inspired by this collaboration with Atmo Biosciences as we pioneer new biomarkers and methods to measure the impact of specific probiotics, while deepening our functional understanding of the gut microbiome. The ability to monitor this environment has tremendous implications for the future of the field."
Recruitment for the study is slated for December with the trial commencing in January 2020.