Researchers at Kogarah have launched a large clinical study to find out more about the 'good' bacteria that exists in poo.
In the laboratories at UNSW Microbiome Research Centre, they aim to discover why one's bodily waste could in fact be a treasure chest of information.
To do so, the researchers need volunteers. They're currently putting out the call for folk from the Campbelltown, Fairfield and Liverpool areas.
The study will examine microbiome, or DNA belonging to the microorganisms which live in the body. It plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of the immune system.
Although research shows the microbiome is already linked to conditions including inflammatory bowel or liver disease and diabetes, and has connections with the brain, much is still unknown about what a 'normal' or healthy microbiome looks like. Through the Healthy Optimal Australian Microbiome Study, researchers hope to find out.
The study is steered by gastroenterologist Professor Emad El-Omar, and has been supported by the Federal Government.
"By studying what the microbiome looks like in healthy and cognitively robust older adults we can determine the factors that have helped them to age so well," Professor Emad El- Omar said.
They are seeking people to 'donate' a stool for the study. Teenagers, adults and seniors, are invited to participate. Also participants of interest are athletes and those who have dementia.
"Healthy and supremely fit athletes also offer a unique insight," Professor El-Omar said. "We want to see what in their microbiome might help them achieve peak physical, metabolic, cardiovascular and mental performance. We are trying to define the microbiome of optimally healthy individuals across the age spectrum."
Fellow researcher, Michelle Fitzmaurice, said faeces were a "microbial and biochemical gold mine."
She said the aim was to define what the healthy microbiome was, "across many generations of Australians, from 13 years of age right through to over 95s". "The oldest person in this study so far is 102," she said. "We are hoping we can reach our goal of 550 participants.
Researchers hope their discoveries could lead to intervention, in the aim of restoring normality to the microbiota, and subsequently improving health and limit the effects of ageing.
Participants do not have to take medication as part of the study, but are asked to do a blood test, oral swab and complete a survey that details their lifestyle and medical history. Participants are eligible if they have not taken antibiotics in the past six months or have not had major gastrointestinal surgery such as bowel resection or bariatric surgery.
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