Microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria that lives within us, which outnumber the number of human cells 10-to-1. Microbes in the microbiome perform functions such as digesting food and synthesizing vitamins and have also been linked to human mood and behavior.
Y Combinator-backed biotech startup uBiome wants to generate data and research from results of learning about the microbes in our bodies. The company, which raised $351,193 of its $100,000 Indiegogo campaign last year, offers three different swab site kits, with which people collect a sample, insert it in a tube and ship it back.
uBiome raised $1.5 million from angel investors and $3 million from Andreessen Horowitz.
The company has patent-pending robot-run sample methods and machine-learning algorithms to analyze the microbiome. uBiome also has the largest private dataset of human microbiome samples in the world, giving participants a quick way to compare what’s in their microbiome to a large group.
Once the swab kit is shipped back to the company (shipping is free in the U.S.) and the research is complete, users will receive a login where they can look at the data and see how they compare to other people such as vegans, those overweight or heavy drinkers. The results take about six weeks to return to the consumer.
That data lets you see the species of bacteria in your microbiome, how it compares to others in the study and the most up to date information on the bacteria.
The company’s goal, apart from giving people a way to see what’s in their gut, is to provide this data to researchers so that they can look at microbiome on a grand scale.
There are a few other projects dubbed “citizen science” that work with microbiomes, such as the American Gut Project, the kit for which costs $99. But the proceeds go to the Biofrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the Earth Microbiome Project at the University of Chicago.
The most basic uBiome kit is $89 and you can grab it at ubiome.com or on Amazon Prime in the U.S.