Crowdfunded scientific project OhmyGut, which allows curious Muscovites to discover what’s really going on inside their bellies, has proved a hit, raising more than twice its target amount of funding over two weeks before its completion deadline.
The project to study the microbiota in people’s stomachs and the effect diet has on it was launched on January 19 with a target figure of 500,000 rubles ($6,600). As of February 1, just over one million rubles had been donated to the project by a total of 200 individuals.
The aim of OhmyGut is not just to raise money, however, but to obtain a cross-section of the nation’s health in order to finalise the project’s system of analysis: people who donate 5,000 rubles or more can submit samples of their microbiota for analysis and will receive personal dietary recommendations based on the results.
“At this stage of the research, it was decided to employ crowdfunding primarily as a way to get people to take part in a scientific project. The most important thing is to obtain data on the state of Russians’ microbiota,” a representative for the Atlas Biomed Group, one of the project’s organisers, told Sk.ru.
Donors will be sent two testing kits. After submitting the results of the first test, participants will receive dietary advice from a nutritionist based on their individual results. Participants should then follow the advice for two weeks, before completing and submitting the second test. They will then receive analysis on the new state of their stomach and what effect the dietary changes had.
Together with Atlas, the experiment is being conducted by scientists from the Knomics research company, a resident startup in the biomedicine cluster of the Skolkovo Foundation. Another of OhmyGut’s authors, Sergei Musienko, is a graduate of Skolkovo’s Open University.
“The bacteria in our intestines help to digest food, absorb necessary elements and protect us from infection,” the OhmyGut website explains. “If the balance in the work of the microbiota is upset, this can lead to illnesses such as diabetes, weight gain and inflammation of the bowels.”
The good news is that the balance can be changed quickly – in just a few days – with the right dietary adjustments.
The project’s authors were seeking at least 100 samples to obtain data to fine tune their final product. So far, 200 people have donated money to the project, which is open to adults living in Moscow. The first test results must be submitted by the end of February, and the second results must be provided within two weeks of the first.
“Currently almost everyone is at risk, as constant stress, incorrect diet, poor ecology and taking antibiotics seriously damages the state of intestinal microflora,” said Dmitry Alexeyev, director and founder of Knomics.
“The number of bacteria in a person’s organism is huge and they carry more than three million genes. So the study of intestinal microbiota and their influence on the health of the overall organism is becoming an increasingly topical task for contemporary medicine,” he added.