IBM has launched a study on the human microbiome and its role in disease

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How the bugs in our gut and elsewhere on our body affect our overall health still remains largely a mystery. But IBM is hoping to shed some light on the human microbiome and its role in autoimmune diseases using crowdsourced supercomputers through its World Community Grid.

IBM has partnered up with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of California San Diego, and the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute for the study, which aims to map three million bacterial genes found in human guts.

The hope is this research will help scientists better understand how these bacteria contribute to diseases like Type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

IBM isn’t the only one looking at our gut health, though. In fact, it seems to be en vogue for tech companies. In April, Alphabet’s life sciences arm Verily launched a project to glean information on the microbiome through the gut and DNA samples of 10,000 participants. Tech billionaire Naveen Jain began his own exploration of the subject with the creation of Viome in 2016 and there have been several startups gobbling up VC dollars to study the subject in the past couple of years.

IBM’s study will use the scientists from the aforementioned universities as well as harness the mass computing power from volunteers around the world to crunch the data. It will then analyze findings and make them publicly available.