The MicroBio Me kit is a gut bacteria test offered by Kirin HD. This test was developed by Thorne, a company that manufactures and sells supplements and conducts a variety of other tests. The test is characterized by the use of shotgun metagenomic sequencing, which directly reads the genome sequence, rather than the 16S rRNA analysis of ribosomal RNA, which is used in many gut bacteria tests. This allows for the detailed identification of intestinal bacteria at the species and strain level, as well as the estimation of the production capacity of specific components in the intestinal microbiota from the copy number of genes with specific functions, according to the company.
MicroBio Me is capable of analyzing approximately 70 items, and Kirin HD is promoting this large number of items as a strength of the company. Targeting consumers with digestive system disorders, the company will provide test kits through medical institutions. The test results are explained to the consumer by a physician at the medical institution. Although it is not an in vitro diagnostic agent and cannot assess the risk of a specific disease, it is intended to improve health through sales of supplements based on test results, in addition to treatment at medical institutions.
Shotgun metagenomic sequencing is more expensive than analysis using 16S rRNA, and MicroBio Me’s test price is also higher than competing gut microbiome tests. The price of the test varies depending on the medical institution, but according to a representative of Kirin HD, most tests are priced between 39,000 yen and 50,000 yen.
MicroBio Me examines the intestinal microbiota on two axes: taxonomy analysis, which identifies the species and strains of intestinal bacteria, and function analysis, which measures the copy number of genes with specific functions, such as synthesizing short-chain fatty acids and vitamins, regardless of the bacterial species. Both analyses ultimately estimate the function of the tested consumer’s intestinal microflora
The test is based on five indices: (1) the number of useful bacteria, (2) the number of harmful bacteria, (3) the number of types of bacteria, (4) the ability to produce short-chain fatty acids, and (5) the ability to produce vitamins, all of which were determined by taxonomy analysis.
(1) The amount of useful bacteria is measured for 12 families, genera, and species, which are considered to be good when they are abundant in the intestines. (2) In the low amount of harmful bacteria, conversely, intestinal bacteria that have been reported to be pathogenic or toxic. Among the indicators used in the overall determination, (4) the ability to produce short-chain fatty acids and (5) the ability to produce vitamins are calculated by MicroBio Me’s function analysis. The score for (4) is also connected to the number of useful bacteria, as many of the bacteria listed as useful in this item are short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria, so the score for (4) is better when there are more of these.