Viome passes gut check with $54M haul to grow microbiome-sequencing platform

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The Viome Life Sciences platform uses artificial intelligence and mRNA analysis technologies to spot biomarkers in the microbiome linked to cancer. The platform is also being used to develop treatments for dementia, metabolic diseases and mental health conditions. (libre de droit/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

With its recently bestowed breakthrough device designation positioning Viome Life Sciences’ mRNA analysis platform firmly in the FDA’s good graces, the gut-testing company has raised $54 million to continue developing the platform.

The pre-series C convertible funding came from a handful of Viome’s previous investors, including Khosla Ventures, West River Group, Glico, Physician Partners and Bold Capital Group. New investor Ocgrow Ventures also joined in the round and will send Harish Consul, its founder and CEO, to Viome as a board observer.

The latest haul closed almost exactly two years after Viome’s series B, which brought in $56 million in November 2019. In total, the company has now raised more than $125 million in its half a decade of existence.

With those funds, Viome will expand its already ongoing clinical research efforts, which are using the platform’s RNA analysis and artificial intelligence technologies to both spot signs of cancer and develop targeted treatments for a variety of diseases.

“Viome is rapidly scaling to become a global leader in the longevity space, to promote better health outcomes today and for our future generations, with exceptional innovation," Consul said in a statement. “The Viome team continues to accelerate leading AI-driven techniques to analyze gut microbiome data, which is leading to breakthrough new discoveries to help solve the root causes of so many chronic diseases to benefit all humanity.”

RELATED: Viome scores FDA breakthrough label for cancer-screening, microbiome-sequencing AI platform

Viome’s platform sequences the RNA in an individual’s microbiome, then uses AI to match those findings to previously identified biomarkers linked to cancer. Because the technology detects microscopic signs of cancer written into a genetic signature, Viome is angling to market its platform as a routine screening tool that could spot cancer well before symptoms arise.

The Washington-based company is researching a variety of cancers that could eventually be diagnosed with its platform, including pancreatic, bile, breast, gastrointestinal, gynecological and head, neck and shoulder cancers.

Earlier this year, the system was named a breakthrough device by the FDA for its early detection of two types of mouth and throat cancer, oral squamous cell carcinoma and oropharyngeal cancer. That designation was based on a study published in 2020 demonstrating that the platform could spot early signs of oral cancer in saliva samples with 83% sensitivity—a number that rose to 93% when looking only at patients with stage 1 cancers.

Alongside its detection and diagnostic abilities, Viome’s researchers are also currently exploring the technology’s ability to use that library of biomarkers to develop therapeutics to treat dementia, metabolic diseases and mental health conditions.

All of this work to further develop and validate Viome’s platform is now overseen by Emmanuel Hanon, Ph.D., former chief of vaccine research at GlaxoSmithKline. Hanon joined Viome in July as global head of R&D.

RELATED: GSK vaccine R&D chief jumps ship to Viome amid COVID-19 vaccine setbacks

Even as Viome pours its VC winnings into its screening and treatment tech, the company has stayed true to its roots as a direct-to-consumer gut-testing provider.

That side of the company continues to offer probiotics, prebiotics and other supplements to improve gut health, as well as Viome’s flagship Health Intelligence and Gut Intelligence tests, which use that same AI and sequencing technology to analyze a mailed-in stool sample to measure overall health and offer recommendations for improvement.

In fact, to meet increased demand for its tests, Viome has recently upsized to a 25,000-square-foot laboratory, where it can now process 10 times as many samples as before. The company can now return results within two weeks and has also been able to expand into more than a dozen new countries across Europe.