If by “genome” we mean the set of genes contained in the set of chromosomes of a single organism, the “biome” is a collection of microorganisms inhabiting the human body. To this day scientists have a very vague idea about how the biome affects our life and health. Company IBM hopes that it will be able to shed light on the relationship of this complex ecosystem and the human immune system using a distributed network of computers under the program World Community Grid.
IBM took on this difficult project in partnership with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of technology, Massachusetts General hospital, the University of California and the Simons Foundation. The main purpose of the study is to explore and classify more than three million genes of bacteria living in the human gut. Scientists hope that this will allow them to better understand the relationship of the microbiome with diseases such as type I diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Not only IBM is engaged in research in this area. Many large IT companies in recent years became interested in biology and are investing tens of millions of dollars in such projects. For example, Alphabet (parent company Google) in April launched a project to collect information on the microbiome based on 10,000 samples of DNA from volunteers who participated in the study. Earlier the founder of companies such as Moon Express and Infospace, Naveen Jane opened the company Viome, is also involved in studies of the microbiome.