Macrogen invests in gut microbiome analysis

Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Macrogen invests in gut microbiome analysis

Microba, an Australian biotech company specialising in gut microbiome analysis, has received a $4.1 million investment from global precision medicine company Macrogen.

The strategic investment provides a platform for Microba to scale rapidly and, working together, the parties intend to secure the position of Microba as the leading microbiome testing company on a global scale. It comes three months after the two companies signed an MOU for microbiome-related research cooperation and service development at Macrogen HQ in Seoul, South Korea.

Microba uses metagenomic sequencing and its proprietary bioinformatics pipeline, called the Metagenomic Analysis Platform (MAP), to deliver clear and clinically relevant microbiome analysis. Macrogen’s precision medicine capabilities meanwhile deliver strong expertise across the microbiome analysis value chain, including next-generation sequencing (NGS), diagnostic development and product distribution.

Both companies will now co-develop a microbiome service that targets the whole genome of all microorganisms in the gut, instead of targeting one specific region of bacteria. Expected to launch initially in the Asia–Pacific region and globally in early 2020, it is expected that the service will see the companies contribute to the development of new diagnostic methods and treatments, as they can produce data that will enable novel microorganism discoveries and metabolite analysis.

“Through this agreement, we expect to generate new revenue in the microbiome market through a competitive service utilising the BI [bioinformatics] pipeline of Microba and global network of Macrogen,” said Macrogen CEO Kap-Seok Yang.

“It is ultimately clinicians and patients who will benefit from this new partnership as it will make this important technology available in regions which previously could not access it.”

Microba CEO Blake Wills added, “The growing requirement to deliver high-resolution microbiome analysis is an unmet need which both parties are committed to solving. The unique technology platform of Microba positions the company very well to deliver the solution.”

The news caps off a busy few weeks for Microba, which at the end of May revealed it had joined the multi-institutional OUTBREAK project — based around the development of a spatial and temporal map and AI-powered ‘knowledge engine’ of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Australia. Just a few days later, the company launched an R&D program to develop gut-microbiome-derived therapeutics for inflammatory bowel disease.

Image caption: Macrogen CEO Dr Kap-Seok Yang and Microba CEO Blake Wills.

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