Disruptive #10: Sports Genomics

Written on April 23rd, 2017

DISRUPTIVE #10: Sports Genomics

Hello, I’m Terrence McNally and you’re listening to DISRUPTIVE the podcast from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. 

Can sneaker endorsements, cereals, protein powders or electrolyte cocktails get any of us closer to the peak level performance of our favorite athletes? Despite billions in sales, the answer is probably no. But how about an elite athlete’s biology?

With 100 trillion cells in the human body, bacteria outnumber our own human cells 2 to 1, and bacteria in our gut affect all our key organ functions. They play a role in our health, development and wellness, including endurance, recovery and mental aptitude.

What if we could tap the gut bacteria of elite athletes to produce customized probiotics – and what if those probiotics could give recipients access to some of the biological advantages that make those athletes elite?

A former NBA hopeful in the lab of George Church at the Wyss Institute asked that question a couple of years ago and the lab is now moving toward a startup to bring such products to market.

In related news, consider this: With 2015 sales of $115B, sports-based nutraceuticals made up the largest share of the global nutraceutical market, but probiotic-focused sports products made up less than 1% of those sales.

I’ll talk with Wyss Research Fellow JONATHAN SCHEIMAN and – a previous guest on Disruptive – Wyss core-faculty member GEORGE CHURCH.
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