SINGAPORE — A new service which allows you to “bank” your gut microbiome from samples of faeces – to treat future diseases – is now available in Singapore with the partnership of consumer healthcare companies Cordlife Group and AMILI.
The two companies jointly announced the strategic partnership on Tuesday (21 June) to provide what is believed to be the first-ever gut microbiome banking service in Southeast Asia. The service involves preserving healthy microbes in a person's digestive tract through their stool samples.
A Singapore Exchange mainboard listed company, Cordlife specialises in cord blood banking services and cryopreservation, which is the use of very low temperatures to preserve living cells and tissues. The firm is one of Asia’s pioneers in cryopreservation of umbilical cord blood obtained from babies.
AMILI is a precision gut microbiome company which specialises in processing and analysing gut microbiome – the bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in the digestive tract.
Gut microbiomes contribute to the immune function, metabolism and brain health, however they degrade over time and can be affected by other factors, such as lifestyle, diet, and the prolonged use of antibiotics. These can be harvested from stool samples, then processed and cryopreserved for future use.
Under the tie-up, AMILI will be responsible for testing and processing of the gut microbiome obtained from clients’ stool samples before sending them to Cordlife’s facility in Singapore for long-term cryopreservation in a dedicated gut microbiome cryopreservation room.
Clients can then choose to withdraw their samples when they are needed for gut microbiome transplantation, also known as faecal microbiota transplantation.
Why preserve microbiome from your stool?
Storing an individual’s microbiome early will allow recipients to access the healthier versions of gut microbiomes that are yet unaffected by medication, diseases, and age.
The gut microbiomes can be transplanted into the intestinal tract of a recipient to restore microbial balance. Such transplants may also confer therapeutic health benefits, according to an article on the transplant by National Library of Medicine.
The transplant is performed via colonoscopy or less commonly through a tube inserted into the nose. Gut microbiomes can also be encapsulated in a pill and consumed. The pills are odourless and tasteless.
According to the press release, AMILI was inspired to collaborate with Cordlife after it received numerous requests from patients’ families who wanted to preserve their gut microbiome for future transplants.
How much to store your stool?
The first transplant was performed in 2014 by AMILI co-founder David Ong, who is also Adjunct Associate Professor at the National University Hospital.
The service, which includes stool and blood screening along with 10 years or cryopreservation service, is suitable for individuals who are at least five years old and able to follow simple stool collection instructions. It is priced at $5,500 before GST.
To be eligible for gut microbiome banking, an individual must meet the prevailing screening criteria, which include a health history questionnaire, stool sample culture test, and infectious disease testing.
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