Elite athletes possess extraordinary physical abilities enabling them to reach peak performances and recover quickly. The question is, can we extract information from their biology and use it to boost the performance level and speed up recovery of every-day-athletes?
Research in different laboratories over the past years has discovered potential connections between the composition of the gut microbiome and different physiological processes, including overall metabolism, immune and neurological functions, which in turn could affect athletic performance. In addition, beneficial bacteria found in elite athletes could enhance and reconstitute the gut microbiome in the general population towards improving health.
Based on these insights, and using high-throughput next generation sequencing technology, Wyss Institute researchers are comparing gut microbiome bacteria from athletes before, during and after peak performance and subsequent recovery phases with those of non- and every-day-athletes. Such comparable longitudinal analysis is revealing transient changes in the abundance of specific bacterial species or even of genetic variants of individual species that correlate with and possibly help drive peak performances in a wide range of sports where extraordinary endurance, speed or strength are involved.
The Wyss team has identified distinct athlete bacterial compositions with potential benefits for performance and recovery. It has been recruiting large numbers of elite athletes into its sports genomics program to pinpoint generalizable changes in the microbiome that consistently occur in peak endurance, speed and strength performances. These results will be translated into probiotic formulations that, after appropriate safety testing, may help every-day-athletes reach higher performance levels and more efficient recovery.
This technology has been licensed to FitBiomics.