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Episode 43: Real Dairy Milk Goes Vegan Without The Cow

Let’s say you’re vegan and you’ve been on the hunt for an ice cream that tastes just like you remember it should. Nothing out there is really cutting it, but what if you could get real cow’s milk dairy...without the cow?
Episode 43: Real Dairy Milk Goes Vegan Without The Cow

Let’s say you’re vegan and you’ve been on the hunt for an ice cream that tastes just like you remember it should. Nothing out there is really cutting it, but what if you could get real cow’s milk dairy...without the cow?

On this Straight From The Gut episode, Andrea and Afif talk about Perfect Day, a new company using a microbe to produce milk proteins, but completely animal-free.

They also dive into two studies about the microbiome and COVID-19, including a discussion about how taking the most used drugs in America twice a day (hint: you might have them in your medicine cabinet) significantly increases your COVID risk. 

Have your own questions or resources that you’d like the team to discuss on-air? Email them to themicrobiomereport@biohmhealth.com, or reach out on Instagram @BIOHMHealth.

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Transcript: 

Andrea Wien: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to The Microbiome Report powered by BIOHM Health. I'm your host, Andrea Wien. And before we get started today, I have a huge favor to ask of you. If you haven't already, can you please, please go rate the show? And if you're so inclined, leave us a review. It's the main way people all around the world find us. So we would be forever indebted if you could share your love. Thank you so much. This show is a Straight From the Gut episode where Afif and I are riffing on the latest in microbiome news and research. Today, we're talking about Perfect Day, a company making real cow's milk, but it's totally vegan. They're using microbes to do it. We're also touching on COVID. I know, not as exciting, but we're talking about COVID as it relates to microbiome, and we get into a really interesting study that linked an increased risk of COVID to the most popular drugs that are taken in this country. So that's something to definitely listen to. Also, some positive advances in the microbiome therapeutics world that could help to really blow the doors off of what's possible in the world of conventional medicine and the microbiome. Enjoy the show. Hey, Afif. What's up?  

Afif Ghannoum: Not much. Just still everyone's remote with this COVID stuff so that's kind of a new normal, but it's good. Nothing too crazy. And big couple of weeks in microbiome stuff, so started to chat through some of these things. We were talking about that Perfect Day offline. That is pretty wild. I don't know much about it, but-

Andrea Wien: It's kind of blowing my mind. You sent that to me, I don't know, a week ago and I went through every aspect of their site. Essentially what it is is dairy milk without the cow, without any animals actually. So they're essentially taking genes and adding a microflora to it, and then out of that is coming the proteins like casein and whey that are real milk. So it's like milk without any animals and without any lactose. So technically vegan milk.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. I was looking at their site. Their site is really a direct to consumer, really nicely done site. Just summarizing what you've said, but basically, because I was trying to get my head around exactly what they're doing, the way I describe it is almost like Impossible meat for dairy. So they're basically like-  

Andrea Wien: But not even really, because [crosstalk 00:02:37] Impossible meat is like a bunch of-

Afif Ghannoum: [inaudible 00:02:39] meat, but for dairy. Basically, it's just what you said. This is the part, this is a little above my pay grade, but they're taking milk's essential genes, which whatever that means, I don't really know what that means, but then they're adding it to microflora, so they're adding it to, typically microflora means organisms in the body or like-  

Andrea Wien: Well they found one organism, it looked like. So what I liked about their site was, yes, it's very consumer friendly, but you can keep digging deeper and deeper and deeper and then the deeper you go, then they had links to learn what gene synthesis is. And so they actually like gave the science behind everything and they did mention the microflora that they're using, which this is the first time that it's been domesticated to be able to do what they're doing with it. I don't know, for some reason it feels less icky to me than lab grown meat, even though I guess essentially it's the same, kind of. But to me it just feels like they're harnessing something that's been around forever that's potentially with this microflora to create something new.  

Afif Ghannoum: What's interesting to me though, is how, not to get into the weeds, but the regulatory piece of this. Is this considered dairy? Is it actually vegan? The reason I say that is I remember one time someone in the probiotic ingredient space said that when they were trying to get... they were telling me that when they're trying to get some sort of GMO certification that it came up, there was a question if cows that eat grass that was genetically modified, is the cow considered non-GMO? I'm hearing this third-hand, but that was the basic thing that was said to me. Forget about the animal, is the food that they're eating, if that's genetically modified, is the animal considered non-GMO? It's kind of mind blowing. So when you look at this with animals and again, you will probably know a lot more than me as a nutritionist on this, but is that considered vegan, even though it's using genes from a cow?  

Andrea Wien: I don't think it's actually using the gene from the cow. Again, then this is kind of above my pay grade as well, but they're using gene synthesis so they're basically printing the DNA that's already been digitized out in the world onto this flora. So I think it's as vegan as like, if you want to get crazy, is sauerkraut vegan because you're technically consuming microbes? But we're consuming microbes in everything we eat.  

Afif Ghannoum: [crosstalk 00:05:30] Okay. Is a probiotic organism considered vegan? Do you know the answer to that as a nutritionist? When I think about it  

Andrea Wien: It would be impossible to eat anything without consuming a microbe, even if it wasn't fermented. It would be impossible to be a human and not accidentally kill microbes on your skin by washing your hands. I think you can't separate microbes from your life. So I think it would be impossible to say. Now you can make the argument, okay, are you actively adding them in by knowing the name of this microflora? I just found that's it's trichoderma is the flora that they're using. So it's like, okay, now suddenly because it has a name, are you not eating it because you're vegan? I think that's getting a little bit into the weeds.  

Afif Ghannoum: I agree with you. I'm curious as to someone... because I know the vegan community is very, very sensitive about these things. So I'm more curious about, okay, well what is it really viewed as in the realm of veganism? Again, we're getting a little off topic, but to me, these are the kind of interesting questions with these new innovations in food that are... This is going to become the norm. Do you know what I mean?  

Andrea Wien: Totally, yeah.  

Afif Ghannoum: I don't even remember how I came across them, but when I looked at them, I'm like, "That is really interesting." Because the really cool thing about that is, by the way, if you can create dairy off this process, you have none of the emissions and they actually mentioned that on their site as I'm saying that, but think about that. That's wild. You don't have-  

Andrea Wien: That's huge. Not for the dairy farmers. I could see a huge uprising in that community, but it's groundbreaking if this takes off and I think that it will continue. You'll start to see things like this. And it does say all over their site because no animals are involved in the process, so from my understanding, they're using this dairy flora, they're feeding it sugars and they've imprinted the gene that they're using with the DNA that tells the microflora what by-product to make. And then the byproduct it's making is the dairy proteins casein and whey. So I think it is vegan.  

Afif Ghannoum: Do we have any idea how big these guys are?  

Andrea Wien: I don't know. I haven't really looked into them. They have a bunch of stuff on their site, become a partner. And it looks like their products seem limited so I'm wondering if they are partnering, putting out calls for entrepreneurs, for food companies, for governments and nonprofits. So it looks like they're doing a pretty big partnership play, which-  

Afif Ghannoum: Wow. Do you know what I just found? This just blows my mind. Because to be honest, I don't remember but I just kind of stumbled across these guys. Never heard of them. I think of Impossible foods, Beyond, we've heard of these. This is on an article, Perfect Day expands series C to $300 million, significantly boosts efficiency of animal-free dairy protein production. It's from last month.  

Andrea Wien: So they have to be going behind the scenes and doing these partnerships because consumers haven't heard of them. They must be doing a different business model.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. I feel like I know a decent amount in this space. Go to all the shows. I've never even heard of these guys. Now, to your point, it might be the kind of thing that they're almost powering other products, but wow. That is-  

Andrea Wien: FDA. I'm seeing an article here. The FDA approves Perfect Day's animal-free whey protein as safe to eat. They're definitely operating at a high level if they're getting FDA approval already and moving through that process. So, yeah, that's huge.  

Afif Ghannoum: I don't know if there are other players in the space, I assume probably there are, but again, they're presenting this as the opportunity to be the Impossible foods of dairy. That's a massive opportunity on the business side. And then obviously as a consumer, if you think about it, what's interesting is the dairy alternative space, the almond milks, the oat milks of the world, they kind of present themselves as the alternative to the issues that you run into with dairy. But if these guys are like, "No, no, no, you can get all the benefits of dairy, but without the downsides," so the emission stuff, it can be vegan, but you're getting all the protein and the nutritional profile, that's sort of the golden ticket.  

Andrea Wien: Yeah. When you first sent it to me, I looked into if someone has a dairy sensitivity, can they have this? And the answer is kind of no. I mean, it is dairy. So unless it's strictly lactose, which a lot of people, they don't actually have trouble with the lactose, it's the casein and the whey that are the problems. So for those people, this still isn't an option. But if lactose is strictly your problem or if you know the environmental impact or whatever is, then this is definitely a good option it looks like. It is interesting to me. I just went to their shops section and they're starting with ice cream. They have a line of ice creams now that you can buy off their site. So for a four pack is 58 bucks, which is pretty steep. But you know, they're shipping frozen food, I guess.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. We talk about animal-free dairy and enabled by flora. But basically every company they partner with identifies it differently either as non-animal whey protein isolate. This is amazing. I honestly thought these guys might be very small because again, especially something this innovative, you feel like it gets out there, but that is wild. Yeah. Perfect Day recently secured a coveted no questions, objections letter from the FDA in response to its generally recognized as safe determination for non-animal whey protein. So just for anyone listening, G-R-A-S, which we usually say grass, generally regarded as safe, basically any ingredient, and I'm making generalization, but any ingredient that you want to include in your product, or obviously as a food, it has to be GRAS. In biome products and biome itself, all the ingredients are GRAS.  

Afif Ghannoum: Now that can be pretty simple. For example, in our Super Greens we have wheat grass. Clearly wheat grass, you don't really need to determine if it's safe, it's wheat grass, it's pretty safe. But then things like biome, the probiotic combination, we had to actually go through and approve each of those things were safe. So the fact that they got that from FDA, that's a big deal because the ice cream manufacturers of the world, we sell ingredients, first thing people say is like, "The technology, is it GRAS?" It's our first question. So that's a big deal.  

Andrea Wien: Just to kind of answer the question of if they're targeting consumers, I went to their Instagram. They only have 887 followers. So it's like no one knows about them. And they're really on Instagram, they're repping their ice cream brand, which they're calling Brave Robot, which is a very weird name to me. But yeah, it doesn't look like they are targeting consumers at this point. It looks like they're really going after partnerships.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. It said that they're trying to go for that intel inside type vibe, doing a quick read of this, so that's not shocking. Be interesting to know what the founders' backgrounds are. Anyway, we're going into the weeds, but really, really cool company doing things with microflora.  

Andrea Wien: I think for our next show, we need a four pack. We got to test out this stuff, see how it compares.  

Afif Ghannoum: [inaudible 00:13:38] Brave Robot?  

Andrea Wien: Yeah.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah, exactly. People are doing cool stuff.  

Andrea Wien: I know, I love it. I love it. I love it. I had some COVID stuff on here, which is not nearly as exciting as ice cream, but very interesting, nonetheless. There was a study that came out, I guess everyone knows that the kind of risk factors for COVID, getting more severe high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity. And we know from the research that those are all things that are connected to changes in the composition of the gut microbiome. So these researchers said, "Is there a jump to be made of how severe COVID symptoms are based on the gut bacteria that you have?" And I guess to take a step back, we know that the gut regulates the immune response to other respiratory viruses such as the flu. We have different pro and anti inflammatory gut microbes that play a different role in regulating our immune system. And so when we looked at COVID, there was a recent study that came out that showed that specific microbes of the gut were associated with severity of the disease. This was the most shocking part to me, the association of the gut bacteria with those immune markers they tested it against was even higher than the known risk factors of COVID, age and obesity being the two biggest. So the gut microbes you had were actually more telling in whether or not you would have severe symptoms.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. Again, it goes back to the drug metabolism we talked about last time. It's going to be shocking moving forward. If we don't find a condition, disease, medication, you name it, that doesn't have some sort of impact or is impacted by the microbiome. Now again, did they talk about how sensitive that correlation was? I'm trying to figure out, was it just an interesting trend or pretty drastic?  

Andrea Wien: It was an interesting trend. There was another study that I pulled talking about proton pump inhibitors that got a little bit more granular. That one, the first one was kind of like, "This is an interesting thing that we saw. Let's keep an eye on it." And they mentioned that probiotics and prebiotics can really impact the immune response to the flu and the flu vaccine, which is exactly what you're saying, it really mediates how people are responding to these medications and things. But the proton pump inhibitor, which is no surprise, for people that maybe aren't familiar, these are things like Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium.  

Andrea Wien: They found that people who were taking those, they did a survey of over 53,000 people, I think it was. And they found that people who were taking two of those a day or more had four times as likely higher odds for reporting a positive COVID test than people who were taking them less than once a day or people who were taking something like Pepcid or Zantac, which really no one should be taking right now, H2 blockers that aren't dampening down the acid production quite as much. When we think about why, I told my husband this and he's like, "Oh, that's interesting." Why? It's because those things are creating low stomach acid and our stomach. Acid is one of the first waves of defense when we're ingesting viruses or bacteria or any pathogens so if we're dampening down the acid, we don't have that-  

Afif Ghannoum: We always talk about this. Because my dad actually does, he's done a ton of research and we've worked in influenza, actually a little bit in COVID. And a lot of people don't realize just what you said is that the flu virus or a number of other viruses, if they get past your throat, they're really not going to bother you because they're going to get killed. Your system is really good at killing pathogenic organisms, so you're right. All you're doing is you're dampening... Our system is really amazing. If you really think about it's this perfect machine that goes out of whack and then we just try and dampen it down. Like you're talking about acid production. If you have acid reflux or indigestion, it can be really uncomfortable, the problem when you take it down to like nil to counter the way you're eating, that's causing that overt acid production, you're killing this amazing system that actually protects you. It's really amazing. Sometimes I really do get caught just fascinated by how amazing our system is.  

Andrea Wien: It's so true. The majority of people, and this is very counter intuitive when we think about acid production, but the majority of people who have acid reflux, they think, "Oh, I have too much stomach acid. I need to take something to dampen that down." And actually the reverse is true in almost 90% of people, they have too little stomach acid and then what's happening when they eat is they don't have enough stomach acid to be able to digest the food and that first stage of digestion and so it's starting to rot and putrefy create gases in the stomach. And then that pushes up on this very weak sphincter that we have called the lower esophageal sphincter and then we get what little acid is in there splashes up because of that pressure. So actually it works a lot better for most people to add in acid.  

Andrea Wien: There's a lot of steps that you can take before this. I mean, just eating, sitting down, not rushing, chewing your food, all these things can really help, but it's very counterintuitive. So whenever I get someone in my practice who is on a PPI, that's my first thing that we do is try to reverse them and get them off of that because it's so detrimental down the line. And then especially in acute situations like this with viruses and pandemics and things that you definitely want all of the defenses that you can have,  

Afif Ghannoum: What's a way you can increase acid?  

Andrea Wien: Just slowing down. This is my first thing that I tell anyone. When you think about how your digestion starts, if you think about something you're going to eat and your mouth starts watering, that's your digestion kicking into gear. So right there, that's allowing your brain to tell your stomach, "Okay, start kicking up acid production." So sit down. I always tell people to take three to five deep belly breaths, actually look at your food. How many people like sit down at their desk and now at their kitchen table probably, it's still in front of their computer and are just chowing down on the sandwich, not really paying attention. So pay attention to your food, chew it really well. I'm talking 20 to 30 chews per bite, which seems like a lot if you've just been doing one or two, but that has a huge impact.  

Andrea Wien: And just stress levels in general. Making sure you're not eating when you're stressed out, you just had a fight with your spouse. You're yelling at your kid. And that right there, to be honest with you, probably 50% of people in my practice are like, "Oh my gosh, I'm digesting so much better just doing that." Staying away from water when you're eating. Try not to drink water 20 to 30 minutes before you eat and maybe about 45 minutes after. And then from there, if people are still having a lot of issues, we can start adding in some supplemental HCL we can add in enzymes to help them digest better. But a lot of times it's just lifestyle stuff.  

Afif Ghannoum: That's wild. It's funny you mentioned digestive enzymes. I never really use them. Obviously, we talk about them all the time. We were doing a partnership with a company and they actually have a digestive enzyme product. Actually, they use Deerland enzymes, which are great product. And we ate at a steakhouse and they said, "Oh yeah, try this digestive enzyme." Very nice people, not being polite, but like, "Okay, I'll try it." I felt amazing afterwards. I literally couldn't believe it.  

Andrea Wien: Yeah. Not have to go through every single step of digestion, but I think it's helpful for people. What triggers the enzyme release into the small intestine from your pancreas is the stomach acid, the acidity of the food that's coming in. Basically you can think about your stomach as a gatekeeper and it needs to get to a certain acidity level before that door opens. And the food moves into the next phase, which is the small intestine. And then from there that acidity triggers the pancreas to drop all the enzymes to continue digestion. Well, now we're talking about people who aren't creating enough stomach acid for any number of reasons or they're dampening it down with PPIs. Eventually the stomach has to say, "Well, it's not as thick enough, but more food is coming in or it's just time for that food to move on." So it's moving on to that next stage, but it's not acidic enough to trigger the enzyme production. So now you have a double whammy. It wasn't digested properly in the stomach. Now it's not digested in the small intestine. Then when it gets to the colon, the pathogenic bacteria have a field day and then we get gas, bloating, and all these terrible things an hour or two after we eat. You can see how every step is compounded based on what came before it.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah, it's really wild.  

Andrea Wien: The one thing I want to come back to just really quickly on this PPI thing that I thought was interesting in the study, this was a little bit not even about the PPIs, but they were saying that patients with COVID, half of them have live, live in quotes because a virus technically can't be live, but viral RNA in their stools, even when it's not found in the respiratory tract. The research kind of suggests that we could be monitoring COVID levels in the sewage plants and this could provide a lead time indicator for how many cases of COVID or potential hospitalizations are going to happen in the community. Which I think is so cool. You can do that? But also shows you that it could be living in your GI tract and not in your respiratory tract. And then you can [inaudible 00:23:24] the jump that leaky gut and intestinal permeability to go rogue and the rest of your system, if your gut health isn't intact. And then that's where maybe we see additional issues with the heart or even moving back into the lungs or wherever in the body. So I thought that was pretty telling and interesting.  

Afif Ghannoum: You just blew my mind. It was something that I'd never ever thought, which is whether viruses are alive. And when you said they're not alive, I thought that doesn't make sense. But as you were speaking, I was looking it up. They're not alive. That's really wild.  

Andrea Wien: No, they're like a fragment of... Again, this gets a little bit... I don't know if I will explain it too well, but they basically hijack your cell and then use that cell against you as a fragmentation of something. But they're not living in the way that bacteria are.  

Afif Ghannoum: That's really wild. Viruses need to invade a living organism to replicate. Literally all I do is talk about bacteria and fungi lately [crosstalk 00:00:24:24]. I did not know that.  

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think that's what's scary too. We had this conversation about... I feel like we've made a lot of strides in the last few years about not all bacteria is bad, not all fungi is bad and now everyone's just Lysoling everything. And you know, you go to the checkout at the grocery store and they're like cleaning everything the second anyone has done. And it's like, "Oh, what's this going to do longterm to the microbiome of us and the environment and all these things." That freaks me out, you know? Because I was talking to someone the other day and they were like, "Yeah," a scientist who does a lot of work in the space and they said, "those things kill 99.9%. But that 0.1%, that's still around, that's the really nasty stuff. And so then you've killed all of the ecology around it to keep it in check and what's going to happen now that we have that? It gets harder to contend with."  

Afif Ghannoum: You know what's funny too, is I love some of these rabbit holes. Because as we were talking to I'm like, "I wonder if there are good viruses." Again, I'm just looking it up and-  

Andrea Wien: Afif, did you not listen to our show with Dennis Carroll? Can viruses ever be good? That was the title. Yeah, absolutely.  

Afif Ghannoum: But yeah, like norovirus. They talk about it helping restore the immune function and optimizing immunity against bacterial pathogens. That is really wow. I did not know that.  

Andrea Wien: Yeah. When you think about... We did the show with Dr. William Parker on helminths, on worms and it's like our immune system has evolved over the millennia to fight off certain things and it's gotten good at fighting off different viruses and they work in harmony. And when we eradicate all of those, then that's when we start to see things like autoimmune disease and our immune system overreacting. I love the analogy. I think it was Dr. Parker that gave it of the immune system being like the bored teenager. If you don't give a teenager something to do, they're going to find trouble. It's like that's what the immune system's doing now where we've removed so many of the things that it evolved with and learned how to fight and now it's just bored, so it's starting to attack us.  

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. My dad, literally, he loves talking about the fact that farmers, people with pets are much healthier typically than people who don't have pets and obviously are urban dwellers just because we're not coming into contact with a lot of these organisms that are constantly challenging our system. But the problem is I think the pendulum went from when we were probably in our early twenties where everybody was crazy, kill germs, Lysol your house, all these things to it was starting to get back to there's a healthy microbiome. You know, the clarisol derm brush?  

Andrea Wien: Mm-hmm (affirmative).  

Afif Ghannoum: Clarisonic. Is that what I'm thinking about?  

Andrea Wien: Yep. I had one back in the day. I won't lie.  

Afif Ghannoum: Well, I literally just read that I think that brand went away, which was a massive brand. Again, I'm saying this reading an article. What do I know about derm grooming and all that? Just everything that I read though, was that super hot product and then everybody started feeling, well, you don't actually want to get rid of necessarily all the bacteria on your face. Some of it actually can be very good.  

Andrea Wien: Right.  

Afif Ghannoum: That product line is literally going away if it's not already gone. But now with COVID, it's like a complete 180 back. It's going to be very interesting to see after, God willing all this stuff goes back to normal, how much of this stuff is really sticky as far as germ killing versus germ culturing.  

Andrea Wien: Right. I think what really surprised me when all this stuff started happening was there were people saying, "Get all the hand sanitizers and they have to be a certain percent alcohol to kill viruses," and et cetera, et cetera. And then I read something or talked to someone and I don't remember who told me, but it's actually the friction of your hands a lot of the times too. So even just running your hand... that's why we wash for 20 seconds. It's not because the soap necessarily is killing these things that are on our hands, the friction of that is what's busting the thing that's around the virus, let's say, like the protectant around the virus and that's what's actually allowing it to be effective. So even when people are using hand sanitizers, they should still be rubbing for 20 seconds, which no one ever does. You're squirting it in your hand and rubbing your hands together and saying it's done. But that really blew my mind that it's the friction of that motion more than the actual substance or whatever you're putting on your hand.

Afif Ghannoum: Well, yeah. And this is a little fun fact, but a lot of those surface cleaners like disinfectants, I do it, you spray it and then you instantly wipe it. You're really supposed to let that sit for 30, 60 seconds. But literally, you'll see people do it, spray and instantly wipe. So it's funny how much of this stuff, you wonder how much of it is psychosomatic or it's like clean house smells like lemon. I'm doing what I need to do versus it's actually cleaning.  

Andrea Wien: This is getting off into a real tangent that has nothing to do with this, but it makes me think of when Febreze came out. It lifts odors, basically their thing, and they gave it to a bunch of housewives to try out and families. I'm sure it wasn't just housewives, but a bunch of different people. It didn't have a scent to start with and people were like, "Yeah, it worked to get my smell out, but I'm not going to use it." They figured out from a marketing standpoint that it needed to smell like something because it had to... mentally people made the jump like, "Oh, now my house smells quote, unquote fresh. It smells like Febreze so it must have worked." But when it was odorless, people didn't have that.  

Afif Ghannoum: I don't know why I know this, but the other thing with Febreze, when they were first testing, I think it's a Proctor and Gamble brand, which is down in Cincinnati near us. But from what I understand, they thought people with cats and stuff would really love it because it would get rid of odors and that crowd was like, "What smell?" They couldn't smell out [inaudible 00:30:59] the issue. They took it from this sort of niche audience of heavy duty pet owners to sort of general audience, because it would really trap the odor.  

Andrea Wien: Now it resides mostly in college dorm rooms.  

Afif Ghannoum: Right, right. That's interesting. Well, on a unrelated, but really fascinating note, there's this company Seres Therapeutics, which in our world we know is kind of like a heavy duty microbiome therapeutics company. What I mean by that is obviously in the context of microbiome, a lot of people think of it as probiotics and eating for a balanced gut, sort of more nutritional aspect. There's a whole group of companies, my dad does a lot of testing with these guys, this sort of group at Case Western School of Medicine, they're trying to develop microbiome products to truly improve illness, conditions, diseases. And it's not just in the digestive health world, there's all sorts of companies like Finch Therapeutics, they're working on autism. Seres is working in C. diff. Until recently, and actually it looks like there may have been a breakthrough the last couple of days, there really had not been a proven microbiome therapeutic to break through the market.  

Afif Ghannoum: So Seres, their stock literally went up I think it was 350% because they have an oral microbiome therapeutic that resulted in a 30% decline in the number of patients who experienced recurring C. diff infection. For people who don't know much about C. diff, C. diff is a horrendous disease. It's extremely hard to get rid of. From what I understand, the only time they're able to really treat it is fecal transplant or unending, a lot of times won't work, antibiotics. And obviously, we all know the side effects of antibiotics so what's really cool about this is if you can control C. diff through a microbiome therapeutic, that's a mega, mega breakthrough.  

Andrea Wien: Well, I think it just shows... you said it's an oral so we actually have a show coming up that's all about oral microbiome and functional dentistry and how to take care of microbiome but-  

Afif Ghannoum: I think it's orally administered.  

Andrea Wien: Orally administered. Okay. Okay. Okay. Got it. Got it. I was like, "That's really interesting if it's..." Could be both, I guess, but yeah, even that is powerful. People die from C. diff so that's a huge... Something to keep an eye on, for sure.  

Afif Ghannoum: Especially because C. diff, from what I read, it's about 200,000 people in the US that deal with it. That's a lot of people, but it's not something on the order of diarrhea or something that's like millions and millions of people. But really, what this is indicative of is, you and I have talked about this, how much of this is correlation versus causation? If they're able to bridge that gap, it's really going to spill out into the open all these different opportunities for applying microbiome therapeutics to actually treat conditions. Because that's a big difference. Anytime you use supplements... and people should be very wary of any product that claims it improves or treats a condition. That's not what dietary supplements are supposed to do. They're supposed to be a supplement to your diet. So a therapeutic is actually designed and approved by FDA to either prevent, treat or cure a condition or disease, so it's obviously a substantially higher barrier proof. The fact that we're getting these types of results is an enormous deal in this world.  

Andrea Wien: How do you spell the company? So if people want to check them out,  

Afif Ghannoum: S-E-R-E-S.  

Andrea Wien: Okay, cool. Yeah. We'll link to all of that and these studies that we mentioned and everything else in our show notes, but I think we'll wrap it up for tonight. As always, it's so much fun to be doing these. It's a great check-in. If people want to send over anything that they find that they want us to chat about, the microbiomereport@gmail.com is set up for you guys. And you can always go check out the show notes and things at biohmblog.com. Again, B-I-O-H-M. Afif, thank you. It's always fun.  

Afif Ghannoum: Thanks for having me.  

Andrea Wien: Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed listening to the show, please share it with a friend or go leave a rating and a review. Every single one really counts. I'm Andrea Wien and I'll catch you in a couple weeks.  

 

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