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Test your microbiota, good idea?

Illustration of toilet. – pixabay

  • Patients with digestive disorders often have years to name the diseases they suffer.
  • Over the past ten years, many studies have focused on the microbiota, a colony of intestinal bacteria that play a role in digestion, but which also has a major impact on our health.
  • These tests, if scientifically valid, could provide valuable information for caregivers and patients to rebalance their diet.

Take the chair with a spoon to find out more about the contents of the intestines. This is what 1test1 suggests, a test that allows you to send a sample to the lab. If research and the general public for ten years are passionate about the poor and its mysteries, it is because it provides valuable information about
intestinal microbiota, a colony of bacteria distributed in more than 1,000 species and
who love us well.

Indeed, this microbiota, when it comes to malfunction, can cause inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, functional colopathy …) but also obesity and type 2 diabetes and even depression … This leading role does not not missed by the startup companies whose
Luxia Scientific, a young company that started 1test1 just a year ago and is trying to find its place in this coveted market, especially against competitors like
Nakhibu or

What's the point?

Behind this test is a woman, Alessandra Gervino, a genetic data analysis specialist. She went from research to entrepreneurship to start
Luxia Scientific in 2018 and develop a test that analyzes the quality of the microbiota. With a complex technique: gene sequencing, to identify which bacteria are present in the stool sample.

An evaluation of this review, sent to a health care professional, reveals whether this microbiota is deficient in this or that bacterium, compared to standard statistics. In one-year tests, "among those who report poor health, 85% are concerned about deficiencies, against only 25% of people who say they are healthy," says Alessandra Gervino.

How does this test go?

The client can buy a kit (288 euros) on his website, on the website of Lucia, which he receives in his place. With the help of a small spoon, it will slip a stool sample into a tube. Then mail it to a lab in Luxembourg. The latter sends a report to the client who will need to consult one of the interns (nutritionist, naturopath, gastroenterologist …) trained by Luxia Scientific. "This allows the healthcare professional to see if there is a deficiency and to work with his patient on a rebalance through diet and, if necessary, with prebiotics. [des fibres végétales qui nourrissent les bactéries] and probiotics [les bactéries elles-mêmes]says Alessandra Gervino. Because bacteria, like us, have their own food preferences. It is therefore necessary to know what to use to strengthen them.

"This type of test would help me a lot," said William Lowes, who has functional collapse. With Adrienne Richard, he formed an association and location without defeat,
The purpose must be this: to inform their companions of the digestive accident, "from mouth to plate." "For years, I had all the care: a GP, a gastroenterologist, a colonoscopy, an MRI … And the results explained that I was OK. But in reality, I was 8kg less than I am today and I was in bed, says Adrienne Richard, suffering from it
Crohn's disease. I went through breathing tests, food intolerance tests, before I realized that the microbiota was the starting point. And that there was a clear interest in knowing more about these bacteria.

Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Functional Colopathy ... Many digestive disorders are associated with a microbiota imbalance.
Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Functional Colopathy … Many digestive disorders are associated with a microbiota imbalance. – Pixabay

Useful or Gadget?

Celine Logger, a nutritionist-nutritionist in Paris, seems confident in the future of this test1, the one that followed a patient who experienced it. " I asked myself the question before training: Isn't this a gadget? Behind me is no desire to sell probiotics, but a research interest that I liked. But for now, patients know little and remain expensive. Microbiosis is associated with many disorders (obesity, autism …). However, we do not have enough perspective to know exactly where this type of test can prove useful. "

Many people see this type of test as an individualized and precise response to many pathologies and an important focus on prevention. "There is a lot of evidence that the loss of microbial diversity has serious health consequences," said Guy Ororz Gorohov, head of immunology at the Pittier-Salpetrierre Hospital in Paris. Performing this test can be a plus for the patient. On the other hand, there is a lot of ongoing discussion about what a good microbiota is and how to diversify. For him, this test is different from others because it offers easy and secure logistics. "Making a car seat collection at home is much easier than going to the hospital. This test is standardized, while very different from one laboratory to another, and their result is greatly influenced by the conditions of sampling. Microbial bacteria are very sensitive to oxygen. So if, at the time of collection or during transport, they are found outdoors for a long time, some will disappear. "

Harry Sokol, a gastrologist at Saint Antoine Hospital (Paris), is more skeptical. "Not all microbiota tests are interesting at the moment for either the patient or the caregiver," he said. He ensures he receives dozens of patients who have already performed these tests. "And I put them in the trash! Because the generic response cannot lead to any treatment, he assures. When you take a blood test, you are looking for an accurate answer to glucose, ferritin … This does not mean that there is no future for a microbiota-based test. But for a moment no one has scientifically demonstrated its usefulness to a large number of patients. "

Towards a clinical trial?

In fact, only a hundred of these 1 test1 were released in one year, and a group of people originally had only about thirty members. What remains particularly weak is to draw conclusions. Alessandra Gervino wants to continue the adventure and get scientific validation. "One of the difficulties is that we are at the intersection of food and medicine. It is therefore not regulated by the Agence du médicament and is an open door to abuse, admits the founder of Luxia Scientific. Our test got the CE mark and is the only one that will return private insurance. "

Some of them pay between 50 and 100 euros for this test. "We are talking to each other to restore it by 2020," says Alessandra Gervino. She also plans to start fundraising and a clinical trial, which if promising results could attract the attention of ANSM. Essential validation to establish itself on a developing market.

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