BiomeSense Raises $2 Million in Seed Round Funding
University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has provided support for company through funding and programs
BiomeSense, a microbiome startup developing a novel biosensor and analytics platform for daily gut microbiome tracking, announced today that it has closed its $2 million seed funding round. The lead investor was BioX Clan, which specializes in early stage funding for new bioscience technologies. Other investors included Seerave Foundation and SOSV, which was following up on its pre-seed investment in BiomeSense via the biotech accelerator program, IndieBio. The company also was awarded $250,000 by the Spring 2018 George Schultz Innovation Fund, managed by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago.
Founded in 2018, BiomeSense is developing an at-home biosensor to produce continuous gut microbiome data and a cloud-based analytics platform to turn that data into actionable clinical insights. The idea for the platform was based on research from Jack Gilbert, former professor in the department of surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine and the faculty director of the University’s Microbiome Center. The company provides its solution to scientists studying the microbiome, delivering dramatically more data over the course of a trial than currently available and enabling an unprecedented understanding of how short-term changes in the microbiome influence clinical outcomes.
BiomeSense co-counder and CEO Kevin Honaker noted that his participation in various programs at the Polsky Center helped bring BiomeSense to its seed round. The company went through the center’s I-Corps program and its Life Sciences Launch Pad. Honaker was also an Innovation Fund Associate, and was named a Tech Venture Fellow at Polsky Center, allowing him to collaborate with experts in the life sciences and entrepreneurship spaces as his team developed BiomeSense.
“The human microbiome is the next frontier of precision medicine with enormous possibilities for improving our health,” Honaker said. “Understanding how and why the microbiome changes over time is key to fully unlocking that potential, but today, getting continuous data at a reasonable cost is impossible. The Polsky Center was an invaluable partner for us as we launched BiomeSense. The Innovation Fund helped get us off the ground and now, thanks to the confidence of our funding and research partners, we’ll be able to launch this orginal solution in human trials next year.”
“We’re delighted to be leading BiomeSense’s seed round,” said Ho Joon Lee, CEO of BioX Clan. “Their ground-breaking approach to continuous microbiome analysis has the potential to revolutionize the diagnostic use of microbiome data and bring tangible benefits to human health.”
With the seed funding, BiomeSense will complete its prototype biosensor and data modeling platform in preparation for first clinical trials, scheduled for 2020. Those trials were oversubscribed within weeks of their availability, reflecting the widespread support BiomeSense has received from the research community since its launch from the Polsky Center.
Indicating the breadth of the impact a better understanding of the gut microbiome can have on human health, those trials will investigate cancer progression, immunotherapy response, surgical recovery and athletic performance.
“We have barely scratched the surface of understanding the power of the microbiome,” said Dr. Gilbert, who now serves as BiomeSense co-founder and principal investigator. “Recent work by the Human Microbiome Project and others has shown that to fully understand microbiome–disease interactions, we need large-scale studies that track microbiome changes over time, but until now we haven’t had the tools to make those possible.”
A renowned expert in microbiome research, Dr. Gilbert is leading development of the startup’s analytics platform. Joining Honaker and Dr. Gilbert as BiomeSense co-founders is Dr. Savas Tay, University of Chicago professor and bioengineer and an expert in microfluidic engineering.
“This technology will fundamentally transform our understanding of the microbiome,” said Dr. Gilbert. “I’ve dreamed of developing it for years because I know the potential impact it can have on people’s lives. Turning that dream into reality now is incredibly exciting—especially since that excitement is shared by our funders and research partners.”
BiomeSense is developing the first integrated hardware, software, and data platform to massively scale gut microbiome data collection and analysis—producing up to 30 times more data than current tools, at the same or lower cost. To learn more about BiomeSense, go to BiomeSenseInc.com.