Washington D.C. — Building consistent ways to measure intestinal processes can improve our understanding of how diet, nutrition and health interact. Three expert groups are converging to inform standards for characterizing the “gut microbiome” — the collection of bacteria and microorganisms that aid digestion. A resulting workshop report also recommended measures for the “gut metabolome” — the total number of metabolites held in the gut — and their links to the microbiome.
With consensus measurement standards in mind, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, The BioCollective and the International Life Sciences Institute North America are collaborating to address the need for a Reference Method (RM) for a Human Whole Stool. To identify which metabolites deserve priority, the three parties jointly conducted a workshop on September 12, 2019 at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The parties recently published their findings in the journal Metabolomics. Some of the challenges that were identified include standardizing sample preparation, storage and testing processes, among others.
By harmonizing approaches and establishing a Reference Method, these measurements can help make informed, clinically relevant, actionable decisions regarding the state of an individual’s gut microbiome, including disease risks and possible therapies or diets.
Future opportunities include understanding the full spectrum of health links to various metabolites, and considering different diets (e.g., high fiber, strict vegan, high animal protein/fat) and various disease or health conditions.The full manuscript from the September 12 workshop, which has spurred additional efforts and projects, is available here: https://rdcu.be/b943E