Viome nabs $15M to launch gut microbiome sequencing test

Viome's gut microbiome sequencing test is sold as an annual plan. While the company says this allows its diet and lifestyle recommendations to adapt as the microbiome changes, it also provides Viome with an ongoing revenue stream. (Viome)

Viome raised $15 million in series A financing to bankroll the launch of its microbiome-sequencing platform, which identifies the microorganisms in an individual’s gut, analyzes their activity and, using machine learning, provides nutritional recommendations to avoid chronic disease.

The New York-based company aims to prevent chronic illness by providing more information about customers’ gut microbiome and offering personalized lifestyle and diet changes to “balance” the microbiome and ward off chronic illness. The new funding, led by Khosla Ventures, brings Viome’s total raised to $21 million.

The Viome kit is sold as an annual plan—customers receive an at-home collection kit twice a year and send their stool sample to a lab for analysis. Using technology licensed from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Viome identifies and quantifies all microorganisms in the gut and analyzes their function, the company said in a statement. Using machine learning, the company comes up with personalized diet and lifestyle recommendations for each customer.

"Los Alamos National Laboratory has exclusively licensed our advanced transcriptome technology to Viome which allows rapid identification of microorganisms and their metabolic activities," said Duncan McBranch, chief technology officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the statement.

Viome already markets the test in a beta program and plans a broader launch in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India and the Middle East this September.

While the platform currently provides information for individuals, the company hopes that, as more people use the test, its technology will be able to spot trends in the data and improve our understanding of how changes in the gut microbiome affect health. Research linking microbiome changes to illnesses, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease and heart disease, has been emerging over the past few years.

The machine-learning component and higher-resolution sequencing differentiate the product from other microbiome sequencing tests, the company said. Y Combinator-backed uBiome launched its microbiome-sequencing test last November. The SmartGut test uses precision sequencing to identify microbes related to specific infections, health risks and gut conditions. Patients may then work with their physicians to assess the health of their microbiome, uBiome CEO Jessica Richman said at the time.