Category: biology

June 4, 2019 Off

Sequoia-backed Whole Biome wants to heal your gut with medical-grade probiotics

By Jill T Frey

Whole Biome has pulled in $35 million in Series B financing from a list of investing titans, including Sequoia, Khosla, True Ventures, the Mayo Foundation and AME Ventues — just to name a few. The goal? To heal what ails you using microscopic bugs.

Medical science has caught on in the last few years about the importance of gut health using these bugs (also known as probiotics). Now startups are pitching in using venture money to come up with new and novel ideas.

“We’re at a unique point in time as the field of microbiome biology converges with enabling cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatics that will open up a whole new world of innovative health products,” said Colleen Cutcliffe, Whole Biome’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

Cutliffe, who hails from DNA sequencing company Pacific Biosciences, along with her partners Jim Bullard and John Eid, built a platform able to compute information … Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

DNA Script picks up $38.5 million to make DNA production faster and simpler

By Jill T Frey

DNA Script has raised $38.5 million in new financing to commercialize a process that it claims is the first big leap forward in manufacturing genetic material.

The revolution in synthetic biology that’s reshaping industries from medicine to agriculture rests on three, equally important pillars.

They include: analytics — the ability to map the genome and understand the function of different genes; synthesis — the ability to manufacture DNA to achieve certain functions; and gene editing — the CRISPR-based technologies that allow for the addition or subtraction of genetic code.

New technologies have already been introduced to transform the analytics and editing of genomes, but little progress has been made over the past 50 years in the ways in which genetic material is manufactured. That’s exactly the problem that DNA Script is trying to solve.

Traditionally, making DNA involved the use of chemical compounds to synthesize (or write) DNA in chains … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Microbiome testing service uBiome puts its co-founders on administrative leave after FBI raid

By Jill T Frey

The microbiome testing service uBiome has placed its founders and co-chief executives, Jessica Richman and Zac Apte, on administrative leave following an FBI raid on the company’s offices last week.

The company’s board of directors have named John Rakow, currently the company’s general counsel, as its interim chairman and chief executive, the company said in a statement.

Directors of the company are also conducting an independent investigation into the company’s billing practices, which is being overseen by a special committee of the board.

It was only last week that the FBI went to the company’s headquarters to search for documents related to an ongoing investigation. What’s at issue is the way that the company was billing insurers for the microbiome tests it was performing on customers.

“As interim CEO of uBiome, I want all of our stakeholders to know that … Read the rest