The “French gut” project scrutinizes the microbiota

It is a project that its designers like to describe as” a little crazy “. It is in any case ambitious since it is a question, by 2027, of collecting, sequencing and analyzing the microbiota of 100,000 French people, with the aim of mapping all their diversity.

In recent years, advances in genetic sequencing techniques have made it possible to advance in the knowledge of what is still sometimes called the “intestinal flora”.

But studies have so far only focused on a small number of people, often in the context of research into pathologies. However, this ecosystem, made up of 50,000 billion bacteria (i.e. 1 kg per person!), is very different from one individual to another.

Measuring the impact of microbiota on health

“Today, we know that the microbiota plays an important role in our digestive, metabolic, immune, neurological, recalls Thomas Lombès, Deputy Director General for Strategy at the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm), one of the four public institutions involved in this project led by the National Research Institute for Agriculture , food and the environment (Inrae), with the support of a dozen private partners. We also know that its alteration is an explanation for many pathologies, such as obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s disease or certain cancers. But we still have a lot to understand in order to precisely measure its impact on our health.he explained during the official launch, on September 15.

What role do diet, pollution, stress or antibiotics play on this inner world? To what extent can we act on its composition to prevent the appearance of certain diseases? These are some of the questions the researchers hope to answer.

A global microbiota database

Called “Le French Gut”, the project is part of a vast international program, “Million Microbiome of Humans Project”, which plans to analyze one million faecal samples in order to constitute the largest global database on the microbiota. .

On the French side, the time has come to recruit volunteers, via a specific website (1). Before receiving a stool collection kit, each candidate will have to complete a fifteen-minute questionnaire, scanning their eating habits and lifestyle (smoking, sports activities, etc.). Among the selection criteria: being over 18, residing in metropolitan France, or not having taken antibiotics for three months.

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