Introduction

Our body is host to over a 100 trillion microbial cells that comprise the human microbiome. In fact, the number of microbial cells in our bodies likely outnumber human cells. We rely on our microbiome everyday for many different biological processes and these microbes are necessary for good health. While autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have a strong genetic component, it is also believed that the gut microbiome may play a role in the condition. Several studies have examined the gut microbiomes of individuals with autism and support the idea of a strong link between the human microbiome and autism-related behaviors.

The M3 study aims to unravel the impact of the microbiome on the ASD phenotype. Leveraging the crowdsourced approach for our clinical study, we hope to overcome the limitations of previous studies and provide a better understanding of the mechanisms involved. 

How to Participate in M3

Are you a family with a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder between 2 and 7 years old and with a neurotypical sibling within two years of the child with autism. If so, you can help us unravel this microbiome link.

There are 3 steps to participate: go to microbiome.stanford.edu 

  1. Answer a survey about your children’s day-to-day behavior and diet

  2. Record and upload home video of your children. We are looking for a short 3-5 minute home video clip of your child’s typical behavior. We will combine this video with the information you provided in the short questionnaire to have a comprehensive understanding of your child’s phenotype

  3. Collect and send a set of biological samples to us (don’t worry we provide all the collection and shipping materials to complete this step!)

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Because most of the microbiome is found in the gut, the best source for answering research questions related to the microbiome is through analysis of a stool sample. In addition, we would like to gather the DNA of each child through the collection of saliva as well. With these samples we will be able to compare both children with and without autism as well as a more direct comparison between the siblings in the same household.   

All of your participation is done from the security and comfort of your own home. All you have to do is complete a few easy steps and your contributions will go directly towards advances in autism research!

The Project

Second Genome, Inc., and the Stanford University School of Medicine have received a Fast-Track 1R44 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to study the relationship between the human microbiome and autism as a model to be generalized to other central nervous system diseases such as substance use disorders. As part of the multi-year collaboration entitled “Microbiome, Metabolites and the Mind (M3)”.

More details on this study can be found here: https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/1305937.