How Eagle Genomics has landed $1m for microbiome research
PUBLISHED: 06:42 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 00:09 05 May 2018
Iliffe Media Ltd
Life sciences firm works with ‘most recently discovered human organ’
Life sciences firm Eagle Genomics, which focuses on genomic data and microbiome analysis, has raised $1million within three weeks of opening its latest investment round.
New chief executive Anthony Finbow spoke to Cambridge Independent about the firm’s progress.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I took on the role following a board meeting last week.
“I’ve been executive chairman since 2016, and my job now is to transform the company from a different business into a software business.”
The firm’s key platform, e[automateddatascientist], which “puts data science at the fingertips of biologists”, has been two and a half years in the making.
“We explore genomics and microbiome,” says Anthony of the platform. “Microbiome is that ecology of bacterial organisms that co-habit human hosts. It’s been called ‘the most recently discovered human organ’.”
The average human carries 2kg of these bacterial organisms in the lower bowel.
“They produce the enzymes to digest food,” continues Anthony, “and they’re in our skin and hair, we’ve been unaware of them to the point where you could say we’ve been systematically trying to kill them off in food, shampoos and skin care products. Increasingly the suggestion is that this is not a good thing.”
An example is cleaning products which advertise they kill 99.9 per cent of all known germs. “The evidence suggests that killing all germs leaves the ground free for antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that could be causing a lot of damage.”
The e[automateddatascientist] platform analyses what these microbiomes are up to.
“This research will become much more significant for cures of diseases,” says Anthony, and cites work with firms such as Proctor & Gamble.
“We’ve been working with Unilever, who have been doing extensive work on oral microbiomes, for instance to develop toothpastes that have the least damaging effect, along with skin creams and shampoo. In fact microbiomes are the number one marketing theme for cosmetics this year.”
The $1m investment is the first tranche of a funding round that is expected to result in a Series A funding round later this year. “We want to maintain flexibility on the timing for that but we’re on an exciting path,” adds Anthony.
Eagle Genomics’ platform is now also part of Microsoft’s Scale-Up Program, which will host e[automateddatascientist] on its cloud environment. “They will sell with us to their enterprise customers.”
Eagle Genomics, which was founded in 2008, employs 25 people, and is based on the Wellcome Genome Campus.