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uBiome is jumping into therapeutics with a healthy $83 million in Series C financing

23andMe, IBM and now uBiome is the next tech company to jump into the lucrative multi-billion dollar drug discovery market. The company started out with a consumer gut health test to check whether your intestines carry the right kind of bacteria for healthy digestion but has since expanded to include over 250,000 samples for everything from the microbes on your skin to vaginal health — the largest data set in the world for these types of samples, according to the company. Founder Jessica Richman now says there’s a wider opportunity to use this data to create value in therapeutics. To support its new drug discovery efforts, the San Francisco-based startup will be moving its therapeutics unit into new Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters and appointing former Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez to the board of directors as well. The company has a healthy pile of cash to help build out that new HQ, too, with a fresh $83 million Series C, lead by OS Fund and in participation with 8VC, Y Combinator, Dentsu Ventures and others. The drug discovery market is slated to be worth nearly $86 billion by 2022, according to BCC Research numbers. New technologies — those that solve logistics issues and shorten the time between research and getting a drug to market in particular — are driving the growth and that’s where uBiome thinks it can get into the game. “This financing allows us to expand our product portfolio, increase our focus on patent assets and further raise our clinical profile, especially as we begin to focus on commercialization of drug discovery and development of our patent assets,” Richman said. Though its unclear at this time which drug maker the company might partner up with, Richman did say there would be plenty to announce later on that front. So far, the company has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers on microbiome research, has entered into research partnerships with the likes of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and leading research institutions such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford and has previously raised $22 million in funding. The additional VC cash puts the…

Nutrigene wants to personalize your vitamins using your genetic code

Vitamins are proving to be a lucrative industry in the United States. Just last year vitamin sales pulled in roughly $37 billion for the U.S. economy. That’s up from $28 billion in 2010. To cash in on this growing market, several startups have popped up in the last few years — including Nutrigene, a startup combining the vitamin business with another lucrative avenue of revenue in consumer DNA analysis. Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA. You get your analysis by filling out an assessment on the startup’s website, choosing a recommended package such as “essentials,” “improve performance” or “optimize gut health.” After that you can also choose to upload your DNA profile from 23andMe, then Nutrigene will send you liquid supplements built just for you. Founder Min FitzGerald launched the startup out of Singularity and later accepted a Google fellowship for the idea. Nutrigene then went on to Y Combinator’s winter 2018 class. FitzGerald’s co-founder and CTO Van Duesterberg comes from a biotech and epigenetics background and holds a PhD from Stanford. PhDs and impressive resumes aside, the vitamin and genetics industries are not without controversy. For every study showing that those who eat a balanced diet don’t benefit from supplements, there are just as many highlighting the benefits of taking your vitamins. Also, coupling vitamin therapy with your DNA seems at a glance dubious. However, Dawn Barry, former VP at Illumina and now president of Luna DNA, a biotech company powered by the blockchain, says it could have some scientific underpinnings. But, she cautioned, nutrigenetics is still an early science. Amir Trabelsi, founder of genetic analysis platform Genoox, agrees. We interviewed both Trabelsi and Barry previously when Nutrigene first came on our radar. Trabelsi pointed out these types of companies don’t need to provide any proof. “That doesn’t mean it’s completely wrong,” he told TechCrunch. “But we don’t know enough to say this person should use Vitamin A, for example… There needs to be more trials…

George Church’s genetics on the blockchain startup just raised $4.3 million from Khosla

Nebula Genomics, the startup that wants to put your whole genome on the blockchain, has announced the raise of $4.3 million in Series A from Khosla Ventures and other leading tech VC’s such as Arch Venture Partners, Fenbushi Capital, Mayfield, F-Prime Capital Partners, Great Point Ventures, Windham Venture Partners, Hemi Ventures, Mirae Asset, Hikma Ventures and Heartbeat Labs. Nebula has also has forged a partnership with genome sequencing company Veritas Genetics . Veritas was one of the first companies to sequence the entire human genome for less than $1,000 in 2015, later adding all that info to the touch of a button on your smartphone. Both Nebula and Veritas were cofounded by MIT professor and “godfather” of the Human Genome Project, George Church. The partnership between the two companies will allow the Nebula marketplace, or the place where those consenting to share their genetic data can earn Nebula’s cryptocurrency called “Nebula tokens” to build upon Veritas open-source software platform Arvados, which can process and share large amounts of genetic information and other big data. According to the company, this crossover offers privacy and security for the physical storage and management of various data sets according to local rules and regulations. “As our own database grows to many petabytes, together with the Nebula team we are taking the lead in our industry to protect the privacy of consumers while enabling them to participate in research and benefit from the blockchain-based marketplace Nebula is building,” Veritas CEO Mirza Cifric said in a statement. The partnership will work with various academic institutions and industry researchers to provide genomic data from individual consumers looking to cash in by sharing their own data, rather than by freely giving it as they might through another genomics company like 23andMe . “Compared to centralized databases, Nebula’s decentralized and federated architecture will help address privacy concerns and incentivize data sharing,” added Nebula Genomics co-founder Dennis Grishin. “Our goal is to create a data flow that will accelerate medical research and catalyze a transformation of health care.”

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