Thorne’s Exclusive Wipe-Based Microbiome Collection for the Gut Health Test

The best ideas are born when the brightest minds get together and brainstorm science innovation. How can we make the Gut Health Test easier for individuals who have loose stools? What if we could devise a way to avoid the complexity, grossness, and common errors of collecting a stool sample? Could we use something like toilet paper, while still maintaining the stability, accuracy, and validity of the collection process? 

The “microbiome wipe” is an idea that is now a reality, and it’s the latest Thorne innovation by our diverse and brilliant science and research team. It’s easy to use, less messy, less chance of knocking over or fiddling with a tube, and it requires less looking at and smelling a bowel movement.

The new collection wipe – born from conversations about how to eliminate the worst part of a microbiome test – was developed in the lab, studied in a clinical trial, and now has validated published results. The wipe, which passed the clinical test with flying colors, is now available in the Gut Health Test so everyone can benefit from an improved user-experience.

What is the new wipe?

The new wipe is a user-friendly stool sample collection kit that includes a dissolvable wipe, which is used and then dropped into a DNA-stabilizing solution, which allows an individual to collect a fecal sample as easily as using toilet paper after a bowel movement. The wipe is made from a polymer material, and it looks and feels like toilet paper. The DNA-stabilizing solution ensures the molecular signature of every microbe on the wipe contacts the solution and is stabilized, thus allowing preservation of the DNA, at ambient temperature, for transportation and storage. After arriving at the lab, the sample’s DNA is extracted and undergoes advanced, next-generation metagenomic sequencing to identify and quantify every microbe with DNA in the sample, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and parasites. 

The Study

The wipe study1 assessed the extent to which the new wipe collection method can maintain microbiota composition in a DNA-stabilizing solution compared to immediate freezing preservation (at -20 degree Celsius, the typical freezer temperature) with a commercially available kit, as well as storage at room temperature.

Six healthy adults (four males, two females) ages 31-60, with normal stool type per the Bristol Stool Scale, participated. Four preservation methods were analyzed with metagenomic sequencing: (1) freezing at -20 degree C; (2) room temperature storage; (3) a commercial preservation kit stored at room temperature; and (4) the new DNA-stabilizing solution at room temperature. Participants provided three replicate samples for each of the four preservation methods, for a total of 12 samples from each person and 72 total samples. The samples provided similar average DNA yields in the extraction phase across the four preservation methods. Samples were sequenced and analyzed for taxonomic abundance metrics, metabolic pathway classification, and diversity analysis.

The DNA-stabilization solution and wipe collection method were validated with an R2 = 0.96 for species across all kingdoms to the gold-standard frozen samples for most metrics, including taxonomic classification, diversity, functional pathway classification, and abundances. This value can only be up to 1.0 and therefore is considered good. The DNA-stabilization solution also maintained diversity and species richness compared to frozen samples and showed comparable performance to the commercially available DNA/RNA preservation kit (R2= 0.98). Samples were also consistently clustered by subject across each of the four methods tested.

These results determined the wipe to be a comparable collection method for microbiome samples, so we are now confident the wipe will provide a superior experience for individuals seeking gut microbiome analysis.

Next Steps

Although this study shows evidence of validation for the wipe-based collection method compared to the best and most common current practices, we will continue to explore its applications and ability to further revolutionize the stool microbiome collection process in both clinical and research settings, including with unhealthy populations, and given its stability, in remote locations like military deployments or mid-exercise events. We are also researching its capability to preserve RNA for other types of analysis.

Say good-bye to the toilet fecal collection spatula and tube because wipe-based collection is now available for your use! It’s exclusively in every Thorne Gut Health Test kit, making collection more comfortable and easier for all stool consistencies, while still providing the same accurate and in-depth results in every personalized report.

1.     Hua H, Meydan C, Afshin EE, et al. A wipe-based stool collection and preservation kit for microbiome community profiling. bioRxiv.Published online December 3, 2021:2021. 12.03.471072. doi:10.1101/2021.12.03.471072