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Exploring the ‘Second Genome’ for New Insights: Genome BC Invests in Local Microbiome Startup

By December 7, 2017No Comments

As part of its Industry Innovation Program (I² Fund), Genome BC is investing CAD $750,000 in a local microbiome testing company—Vancouver-based Microbiome Insights (MBI), which provides next-generation-sequencing-based analytical testing and consulting services to microbiome researchers in academia and industry. The new funding adds to the company’s recent round of equity financing, which closed in October.

Microbiomes are the communities of microorganisms – including bacteria, viruses and fungi – that inhabit humans, animals, plants and other environments. These tiny universes perform diverse functions; microbiomes are critical to human health, affecting immune system function, vitamin and hormone synthesis, drug metabolism and energy harvest from the diet.

Detrimental changes to the human microbiome have been linked to allergies, asthma, colon cancer, C. difficileinfections, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative disease and many other diseases. Genomic tools are yielding a growing body of knowledge about these links, paving the way for new opportunities to develop microbiome-based clinical grade diagnostics and therapeutics.

Malcolm Kendall, CEO of Microbiome Insights, says, “The explosive growth in microbiome research – given its fundamental importance to human, animal, plant and environmental health – has significantly outpaced existing capacity to provide microbiome testing, especially outside of academia. The building of this new industry is a unique market opportunity.”

“At Microbiome Insights, our ability to advance innovation through microbiome analysis is borne out by our rapid growth and expanding client list. We offer scientific leadership and customized solutions for our clients’ unique research challenges,” says Kendall.

A recent estimate put the global microbiome sequencing services market at over USD $500 million in 2016. With microbiome knowledge in the nascent phase, significant investment potential exists in this burgeoning market environment.

Dr. Tony Brooks, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization at Genome BC, says, “Our I² financing of $750,000 combined with MBI’s recent round of equity funding will be used to accelerate MBI’s sales and marketing activities, make new hires, the buildout of a new CLIA-certified lab facility, and the development and launch of new services and personal health test products.”

Genome BC’s I² Fund provides commercialization support for companies developing innovative life science technologies that address biological challenges in key economic sectors in BC: Agriculture, Energy and Mining, Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, and Human Health. The I² Fund also supports digital health and other technologies that further move precision medicine into clinical practice. I² funding is repayable and is allocated to promising technologies (products, processes or services) at the early stages of commercial development. The Fund aims to provide risk capital that is concurrently matched by other public or private funding sources.

About Microbiome Insights:

Microbiome Insights Inc., founded in early 2015, is a Vancouver-based company that enables researchers and clinicians to easily and effectively include microbiome analysis in their studies, across a range of human, animal, agricultural and environmental applications. Its team of multidisciplinary experts and next generation sequencing methods combine to provide fast, dependable, cost-effective results for clients including analyses on microbial profiles of disease, treatment responses and environmental