DoggyBiome joins KittyBiome in identifying pet gut microbiomes and developing new therapies for our furry family members. 

 

Today Mostly Microbes is thrilled to have a guest post featuring another fabulous citizen science microbiome project – DoggyBiome. Inspired by her senior dog’s ailing gut health, Holly Ganz, PhD started examining pet microbiomes. DoggyBiome has a database of healthy wild and domesticated dogs to compare your dog’s microbiome to. As more people sequence both healthy and sick pets of all ages, identifying problems in the gut microbiome communities can lead to treatments both now and in the future. To get your dog or cat’s microbiome sequenced, check out AnimalBiome where screening services are currently half-price. Follow DoggyBiome and KittyBiome on twitter for sales and updates. Let me know if you participated and what you thought. 

 

 

DoggieBiome

Guest post by: Holly H. Ganz, PhD

I brought my dog, Yuki with me when I was a postdoc in Switzerland. Yuki is now a senior and has had several bouts of hemorrhagic gastroenteropathy in the past year. While my veterinarian suspects that this arises from an overgrowth of Clostridium, we don’t actually know the cause. So far she is responsive to antibiotics but she must eat a bland diet and we watch her cautiously. She is a proud contributor to DoggyBiome and the canine poop revolution.

 

DoggyBiome is a new project from my new startup AnimalBiome that’s characterizing the gut microbiome’s of dogs. While working at UC Davis last year, I launched KittyBiome, a citizen science campaign that studied variation in the feline gut microbiome (all the microscopic organisms living inside the gastrointestinal tract). More than 300 people from all around the world contributed samples to KittyBiome. From this experience, we were shocked to discover how many cats suffer from digestive disorders. Numerous participants shared the challenges they face caring for pets diagnosed with chronic conditions like irritable bowel disease (IBD). In case you weren’t aware, cats and dogs get IBD just like people. Diagnosing IBD in pets is difficult and expensive, and treatment options are often ineffective. Even worse, studies suggest that unresolved IBD can lead to intestinal lymphoma, which is fatal. This August I put together a team of fantastic PhD-level researchers in order to translate the findings from KittyBiome into useful therapies. I have taken leave from my academic position at UC Davis and we are hard at work in a biotechnology incubator called IndieBio in San Francisco. Now, as a senior dog owner myself, I’m excited to start this same discovery pathway for dogs.

Currently, we have a microbiome assessment kit that allows us to characterize the composition of the gut microbiome and identify pets with gut bacteria that deviate from those with healthy microbes. Using the data from KittyBiome (and soon DoggyBiome), we are identifying signature bacteria to eventually help veterinarians affordably diagnose IBD and other conditions. In order to have a therapy available as soon as possible, we are creating a bank of carefully screened Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) pills for both dogs and cats and will begin shipping them in early January. We plan to replace these FMT “poo pills” with custom therapies in the next year. If you’d like to include a furry friend in this microbial revolution, look us up at www.animalbiome.com and contact us at team AT animalbiome DOT com. We’re excited to learn more together about our loved ones, whether they’re cat or dog, young or old, healthy or ailing, skinny or big-boned; the more participants we have, the quicker we can create cures. Thanks for spreading the word!

Biosketch
Holly Ganz is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of AnimalBiome with a long-standing interest in animal-microbe interactions. Prior to founding AnimalBiome, she worked as a staff scientist with Professor Jonathan Eisen at the University of California, Davis Genome Center to study the microbiomes of dogs and cats, including domestic and wild species. She has published 17 peer reviewed journal articles (with more in review) on topics relating to population genetics, disease ecology, host-microbe interactions, and microbial ecology. She studied co-evolution between mosquitoes and ciliates in her PhD research at UC Davis. Subsequently, she was awarded an NSF postdoctoral fellowship to study interactions between Daphnia and fungi at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. During postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley, she co-authored a successful five-year grant through the NSF/NIH Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program to study how soil microbial ecology affects anthrax transmission in wildlife.

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