New funding: MicrobiomX, a Seattle startup creating a tool to gather and course of stool samples for medical use, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed spherical of funding. MicrobiomX, conceptualized by researchers on the College of Washington and Seattle Youngsters’s Hospital, launched in 2020 following a $50,000 grant via CoMotion, the know-how switch arm of the college. The corporate additionally goals to supply a service to investigate the intestine microbiome.
The necessity: Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) — transferring stool from a wholesome donor to the intestines of a affected person — goals to rebalance the microbial composition within the intestine. FMT is used to deal with recurrent infections with the intestine pathogen Clostridium difficile, and is being examined in a whole bunch of clinical trials for different situations, comparable to inflammatory bowel illnesses. One other experimental remedy, autologous FMT, includes assortment of a affected person’s personal pattern for later use, previous to a microbiome-depleting occasion comparable to antibiotic therapy or chemotherapy.
Present strategies of amassing stool, nonetheless, are “messy, time consuming and laborious,” mentioned CEO Roslyn Hendriks. Clinics sometimes course of samples by including saline resolution, whisking them in a blender, and straining them for administration as a slurry by way of colonoscopy or a nasal gastric tube, or for packaging into capsules for oral or suppository use. “We needed to see if we might make this extra accessible for suppliers in addition to sufferers, and to create a a lot better person expertise,” mentioned Hendriks.
The tech: MicrobiomX’s prototype stool collection and encapsulation device collects and processes a stool pattern in a bucket-like unit with hand cranks. One crank condenses and filters the pattern, one other generates a uniform slurry, and one other flip of a crank extrudes the pattern into capsules, with oral or suppository choices. A separate capsule-cutter machine processes a pattern right into a tube for mailing.
“So far as we all know, we’ve got no direct competitor at this explicit cut-off date,” notes Hendriks, including, “There are completely different options for a similar points. As an illustration, probiotics we might see as being an oblique competitor.” Firms comparable to Rebiotix and Finch Therapeutics are additionally investigating extra standardized approaches to restoring the intestine microbiome, consisting of particular mixtures of microbes, with research underway.
MicrobiomX can also be creating a microbiome evaluation service to look at components comparable to bacterial variety and take a look at for pathogens.
Management: Hendriks was the previous founding CEO of Immunexpress, a molecular diagnostic firm with workplaces in Brisbane, Australia and in Seattle, which developed an FDA-cleared RNA-based diagnostic for sepsis.
Co-founder, President and Chief Working Officer Kathleen Lendvay has expertise in administration consulting and know-how methods, and as a senior government at world well being and social enterprise establishments, together with as interim CEO of VitalTalk and FIRST Washington.
Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Thomas Lendvay is a professor within the Division of Urology on the College of Washington and co-director of the Seattle Youngsters’s Robotic Surgical procedure Middle. He additionally was a co-founder of a startup deploying video to guage surgical strategies, C-SATS (Crowd-Sourced Evaluation of Technical Expertise), which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2018. He and Kathleen are spouses.
Advisors embody William DePaolo, director of the College of Washington’s Middle for Microbiome Sciences and Therapeutics (CMiST), who’s testing MicrobiomX’s prototypes and figuring out microbiome composition and variety after processing and storage via the machine.
What’s subsequent: MicrobiomX’s prototype machine might be deployed in a number of FMT medical trials this fall, Hendriks anticipates, together with trials for Clostridium difficile an infection and gastrointestinal issues. One of many trials might be testing autologous FMT in sufferers present process therapy for breast most cancers.
The corporate goals to market and promote the machine initially to be used in medical trials, after which to medical suppliers who provide FMT and autologous FMT providers. MicrobiomX is working with the FDA to determine the suitable regulatory class for the machine.
The corporate is now elevating a seed spherical of $2 million, aiming to shut within the third quarter of 2021, and expects its first income in 2022. Hendriks says MicrobiomX needs to cut back processing prices for medical suppliers. The machine might be “very inexpensive,” she mentioned. “That is a cheap resolution.”
Traders within the present funding spherical embody the three co-founders, who collectively contributed roughly $150,000.