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Today I’d like to get really nerdy with you. I’d like to introduce you to a lovely dumpy term- pun fully intended- that came abut during a lunchtime seminar that lead me to an amazing science communication discovery. Today I present to you DYSBIOSIS (also referred to as dysbacteriosis for those semantic sticklers out there). The term sounds uber sciencey eh? The perfect combination of ancient Greek and makeshift sci-terminology.
The definition is not so sexy. In contrast to symbiosis- a relationship of mutual benefit- dysbiosis refers politely, to the imbalance of bacteria in the body, and impolitely, to a leaky gut (ruh roh). The equilibrium of microbes in human tissue is critical for your health!
An imbalance or dysbiosis has been tied to many diseases like type 1 diabetes, bowel and celiac diseases. Dysbiosis has become the new it girl of microbiome studies. From a kick ass study published in January, looking in to the blood microbiome- the diverse population of microbes swimming around your circulatory system- and its effects on cardiovascular disease onset, to a ‘blooming’ Spring review in Nature Reviews Microbiology, to explorations of dysbiosis in the oral microbiota and therapeutic solutions testing out fecal transplants (yes, the transfer of poop), the excitement of Dysbiosis was bursting, ‘leaking’ right from the seams of the Science and Medical communities this year.
Even the IT peeps jumped on board. Because we now have the ability to make a video game and app for pretty much anything we could ever dream and hope for, techies and scientists joined forces and thought it would be pretty awesome to accentuate the coolness of bacteria levels out of whack. Bacterial fugitives, messing up that nice, little zen symbiotic community you like to keep in your oral, blood and muscous cavities would no longer be a problem- at least in the virtual world. You can now catch those rascal microbes and in the new video game Dysbiosis, you can shoot them down! Very much a combination of the arcade classics Space Invaders and Lunar Command , the Dysbiosis game stays simple, but true to the elements you seek in a low-impact semi-action video game and supported by Wellcome Trust, the game features actual scientific information. You can learn about the good, bad and ugly bacteria that live in the gut as well as vitamins and the gut environment itself. Talk about fun science communication!
A YouTube trailor for the game (accompanied by some pretty jazzy electro beats) was released last month
and you can try the game out after a simple plugin download here.