A Persephone Biosciences lab employee took a bacterial sample from a tank kept in a small box at -200 degrees Celsius (-328 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s an infantile bacterium that Persephone’s CEO, Stephanie Culler, calls her “company asset.” And where did they come from?
“This is my poop set!” said Kuller.
She is seeking parents to provide stool samples for infants under 8 weeks of age. The poop kit comes in a black box. Kala opened the box and showed me what was inside.
“Easy-to-use instructions, another reminder to fill out medical information, easy-to-use scoops…” she said. “I will scoop up the poop and put it in this container.”
A healthy body means a healthy microbiome that houses the bacteria that reside in your gut. And San Diego-based Persephone Biosciences is looking for parents to donate their babies’ poop. This will allow us to know what is in the infant’s gut and which microbes may be deficient.
The company hopes to collect large and diverse stool samples to examine the gut biomes of babies across the country and compare them to health problems that may occur later in life.
“We know food allergies have increased significantly over the last 20 years,” she said. “A lot of it can come from the microbiome.”
Culler says the health of the microbiome may determine the effectiveness of a child’s immune system. She said modern life is the cause of many health problems, linked to low fiber diets and heavy use of antibiotics.
“Compared to the Amish, the microbiome of Amish babies is much more diverse,” Culler said of a culture that rejects many aspects of modern life.
Other modern inventions that Culler said could compromise a baby’s gut health are C-section births and formulas. The study will compare these children with those who were born vaginally and those who were breastfed.
Endgame: Development of medicines that can enhance a child’s microbiome and improve overall health.
““We want to come up with products that work for all babies, regardless of how they were born or how they were fed,” says Culler. We hope to have the right microorganisms for
Before that happens, Persephone needs to recruit more parents to send their infant poop.
“The sooner you can get your poop, the sooner you can get your product,” Collar said.
Persephone Biosciences has raised $15 million in seed funding. The company hopes their return on investment will be healthy guts and healthy financial returns for their children.