The need-to-know info about science at ZBiotics
Here’s the basic rundown of our science. If you want to really dig in, please check out our full Science section here.
"What problem are you solving?"
When you drink, a no-good byproduct of alcohol called acetaldehyde builds up in your gut (citation). That byproduct is responsible for the particularly rough feelings you get the day after drinking.
Sadly, your body isn’t naturally good at breaking down acetaldehyde in your gut. And hydration doesn’t help either. Our bodies just didn’t evolve to handle lots of acetaldehyde.
"What does ZBiotics do?"
The idea of ZBiotics is to catch your body up, by temporarily adding good bacteria to your gut that can break down acetaldehyde.
How? By combining probiotic bacteria and genetic engineering.
We took a normal probiotic bacteria – something you already eat that we know passes safely through your gut. Then we changed its DNA, giving it the ability to break down acetaldehyde.
The result is an enhanced probiotic bacteria that gets rid of acetaldehyde just like your liver does, but can do so where it matters: in your gut.
It’s like those probiotics in your kombucha suddenly acquired a new skill. They do everything they did already, plus now have a specific, helpful function.
"Did you say ‘genetic engineering’?"
Yes. We took a regular probiotic – a very common bacteria called B. subtilis that’s used in foods like natto (fermented soybeans from Japan) – and we altered its DNA so that it now produces a specific enzyme. This enzyme (called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) is the same type of enzyme that your liver produces.
While the concept may sound unfamiliar, the techniques we used are actually quite common. You’ve probably encountered products made this way without realizing it. Humans have used these techniques for decades to help us make things like cheese, diabetic insulin, and veggie burgers.
We’re just the first to apply these same techniques to the world of probiotics.
"Who are you?"
Our core scientists are Dr. Zack Abbott, our co-founder/CEO, and Dr. John W.K. Oliver, our head of R&D. They both have PhDs (in Microbiology, and Chemistry, respectively) and incredible lab experience as bioengineers – Zack trained at the University of Michigan with Dr. Michele Swanson, and John trained at UC Davis and the Wyss Institute at Harvard with Dr. Pamela Silver.
They are more than qualified to join a big pharmaceutical or academic lab. But instead, they’re at ZBiotics.
That’s because they want to create engineered products that improve everyday life. And because they care about building a new kind of genetic engineering company: one that’s transparent, responsible, and people-first.
We love our first product, but if Zack and John's backgrounds are any indication, this has always been about more than drinking. We believe that this technology and engineered probiotics are the future of health. They have the potential to create incredible new symbiotic partnerships between you and your gut: providing your gut with new abilities that would never be possible otherwise.
There’s an oft-quoted factoid that there are more microbial cells in your body than human cells. Good microbes already do some amazing things for us, but we think they can do even more!
Even as we launch ZBiotics, we’re already working on new enhanced probiotics. In that context, we hope to build new probiotics that deal with unwanted environmental toxins like lead and mercury, enable unique forms of nutrient absorption, and create new and unprecedented benefits for your health.
Questions? Check out our FAQs page.
Want more? Check out our full Science page.