uBiome, Owner of Largest Human Microbiome Database, Raises $83 Million Series C Round

Edward Kim  |

~ Moving into drug discovery and development. Also adds ex Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez to board ~

The human microbiome represents "what is perhaps the most promising yet challenging task of modern medicine: Determining the normal microscopic inhabitants of every organ and knowing how to restore the proper balance of organisms when it is disrupted," said Jane E. Brody in her November 2017 New York Times article about the NIH's five-year Human Microbiome Project. There are trillions of microorganisms—at least 10x more than actual human cells—that co-inhabit the human body, performing vital functions to the maintenance of human health.

San Francisco-based uBiome has developed the largest human microbiome database, with over 250,000 samples and projected to grow to more than a million samples in 2019. According to the company, it has 25x more samples than the next nearest competitor. uBiome announced this morning that it has raised $83 million in Series C financing, led by OS Fund with participation from 8VC, Y Combinator, Dentsu Ventures and other undisclosed new and existing investors. Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz provided Series A funding in 2014.

In a separate press release, uBiome announced the appointment of Joseph Jimenez, former CEO of Novartis NVS, to its board of directors and the opening of a new therapeutics headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts .

Proceeds of the Series C will be used to:

  • Expand into drug research and development using over 200 pre-existing patent assets and industry research collaborations, not data sales
  • Accelerate and expand commercialization of existing products
  • Begin commercialization of biopharma molecules and live biotherapeutics based on mining of existing intellectual property

Source: uBiome

uBiome’s commercial products include:

  • SmartGut, the world’s first sequencing-based clinical microbiome test, which identifies microbes for patients with chronic gut conditions such as IBD, IBS, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis
  • SmartJane, the first sequencing-based women’s health screening test, which genotypes all 19 clinically relevant strains of HPV, identifies four common STDs and surveys more than 20 vaginal microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis and other conditions
  • Explorer, a health and wellness product to understand the role that food and lifestyle can play in wellness.

This is the next step in the evolution of uBiome. We started with a simple wellness product to help people understand their microbiomes, expanded to clinical laboratory testing in 2015 and are now poised for expansion. This financing allows us to expand our product portfolio, increase our focus on patent assets and further raise our clinical profile, especially as we begin to focus on commercialization of drug discovery and development of our patent assets.

- Jessica Richman, PhD, co-founder and CEO, uBiome.

The Company has over 200 patent assets, including seven issued patents in the US relating to sample collection, laboratory automation, computational approaches and molecular techniques, as well as diagnostic signatures and therapeutic targets. uBiome has partnered with more than 200 research institutions around the world, including CDC, NIH, Harvard, Stanford, UC San Francisco, MIT, Oxford and the University of Sydney.

uBiome is radically transforming what we understand and how we interact with the trillions of organisms that make up our microbiome. uBiome is the perfect example of the deep tech—hard science plus technology—that OS Fund focuses on, galvanizing groundbreaking ecosystems and new research opportunities to emerge.

- Bryan Johnson, co-founder, OS Fund.

In addition to leading Novartis, Joseph Jimenez's resume includes leadership roles at Clorox, ConAgra, and H.J. Heinz. In addition to the board of directors of uBiome, he presently serves on the boards of Proctor & Gamble and General Motors. "Joe Jimenez brings an indisputable record of success in pharmaceutical drug discovery and development," said Dr. Richman. "He will further advance the success of uBiome’s mission to transform research into useful products based on the microbiome."

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