These bugs have a lot to do with your health and the startup is launching a clinical screening test called SmartGut to sequence the DNA of those microbes.
uBiome tells TechCrunch it has also closed on $15.5 million in Series B financing to help with the launch of its testing, for its recently College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited clinical lab and to continue growing the team.
uBiome came out of Y Combinator in 2012 with the aim to learn more about the bugs in our bodies and has been growing at a steady clip in the four years since. A spokesperson for the company tells TechCrunch the company now has a database of close to 100,000 gut samples, up from 2,500 four years ago, thanks to the work of citizen scientists and the uBiome community.
But why sequence the stuff that comes out the other end? The GI tract is teeming with bacteria and research suggests the wrong kind may play a role in diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, liver disease, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and a number of other maladies. In fact, many published studies have shown manipulation of the gut microbiome has cured diseases such as obesity in humans. And fecal transplantation has shown a 90 percent success rate at curing a deadly type of diarrhea caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium difficile.
uBiome’s new SmartGut screening test aims to identify “dozens of microbial genera and species” using a 16S rRNA gene sequencing method. It’s unclear how much the SmartGut test will cost but a basic gut kit goes for $89 on the site.
You can order the test and collect your samples at home and then ship them to the lab to find out what kinds of bugs are milling about inside your intestines — and to see if they might be to blame for what ails you. It takes about 2 minutes to collect your sample and get it ready to send in. uBiome says it has submitted details of the testing methods and parameters to a peer-reviewed journal.
8VC led the funding round, with additional support from Slow Ventures, Stanford’s StartX Fund, and various angel investors, bringing the total now raised to $22 million.
Correction: Though TechCrunch was initially informed by a uBiome press statement and confirmed by a company spokesperson the Series B was for $22 million, uBiome has since told us the amount was actually $15.5 million and the total raised by the company so far is $22 million. We have updated this post to reflect the new information.