uBiome launches gut microbiome sequencing test, reels in Series B

Y Combinator-backed uBiome launched the world’s first sequencing-based microbiome screening test, which will provide patients and their physicians with more information about the bacteria in their gut.

The test, dubbed SmartGut, uses 16S rRNA gene sequencing and a custom bioinformatics pipeline to identify a number of microbes that are linked to specific infections, health risks and gut conditions, uBiome said in a statement. Patients collect a stool sample at home and mail it directly to a lab. The test identifies both pathogenic and commensal bacteria and is easier and more convenient to use than other tests on the market, according to the statement.

“The SmartGut test is a transformation of the way we think about clinical microbiology. It leverages the power of DNA sequencing to test for various microorganisms simultaneously and puts the power of microbial genomics into the hands of clinicians,” said Zachary Apte, uBiome's chief technology officer, in the statement. “uBiome and our citizen science partners have assembled the largest database of human microbiomes ever, allowing us to define reference ranges from healthy individuals for every single target.”

uBiome also announced the closing of a “significant round of Series B investment,” which was led by 8VC. The company has raised a total of $22 million. Founded in 2012, uBiome is also backed by Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz, among other investors.

“We learn more about health every year, but unnecessarily negative health outcomes are common because the system doesn’t encourage people to take preventative action,” said Joe Lonsdale, 8VC founding partner, in the statement. “By making gut health testing faster and easier, uBiome will unquestionably have a massive impact.”