Sun Genomics raises $8.5m to drive market share

Personalised gut health testing market is hotting-up and could revolutionise anti-aging intervention tracking.

San Diego-headquartered microbiome health company Sun Genomics is set to build on growing academic, industry and consumer interest in gut health, having just secured $8.5m in Series A funding to scale direct-to-consumer personalised probiotic solutions based on whole-genome sequencing diagnostics. 

Longevity.Technology: There’s a growing body of research that suggests gut health is key to healthy aging. A recent study at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, for example, found that targeting the gut microbiome could be a way to treat age-related conditions [1], while an earlier multi-centre study found that gut microbiota could be exploited to ameliorate the aging process [2].

Founded by CEO Sunny Jain in 2016 when he developed a probiotic strain especially for his son who was suffering GI distress, Sun Genomics’ flagship product is Floré, which uses whole-genome sequencing to evaluate individual samples and then recommend personalized products, based on users’ unique gut profiles. The company also creates a digestive powder product for children called Floré Tots. 

Flore enables users to check gut health scores, track health goals, and discover recommended food and recipes based on gut health data via a mobile app or online portal. Source: Sun Genomics

Sun Genomics claims to be the first-to-market with personalised probiotic solutions and sets out a mission to improve gut health through personalised science.

… the human microbiome market, which was valued at $351.81m in the year 2018, and is continuing to enjoy considerable growth …

However, while it is the first-of-its-kind, it certainly isn’t the only company looking at gut health solutions. Market analysis has revealed the extent of the human microbiome market, which was valued at $351.81m in the year 2018, and is continuing to enjoy considerable growth on the back of rising incidences of diabetes, an aging population, and ongoing academic and pharmaceutical company research [3].

Rival firms developing and marketing their own personalised probiotic include California-based Thryve, which incorporates microbiome testing with personalised dietary and probiotic recommendations, Washington-headquartered Viome, and Europe-centric Atlas which also analyses the microbiome of individuals before suggesting personalised lifestyle recommendations. 

However, could this currently growing market be at risk of reaching saturation point in the same way as home DNA testing? Redundancies at DNA testing firm 23andMe reported by Longevity.Technology have recently indicated a potential decline in consumer appetite for home genetic testing.

There is the possibility that the growth in home gut testing eventually reaches a similar saturation point. You only have to Google “gut test” or “microbiome test” to see that there are increasing numbers of players in the personalised gut health market – so marketing investment will be significant to drive leadership Sun Genomics, however, does have a big vote of confidence in the form of its investors and new board members.

Pangaea Ventures led the first closing of the firm’s Series A round, while additional investments came from Danone Manifesto Ventures, SOSV, Human Longevity and Nascita Ventures. SOSV led Sun Genomics’ earlier seed round, bringing the company’s total funding up to $11.75m.

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Human Longevity Inc.’s Chairman, Dr Wei-Wu He his firm participated in the funding. Source: Human Longevity Inc.

As part of the new deal, Chris Erickson, founding general partner at Pangaea Ventures has joined Sun Genomics as a new board member, while, in a previous interview with Longevity.Technology, the chairman of Human Longevity, Dr Wei-Wu, spoke extensively about the firm’s ambitious plans to be at the forefront of preventative medicine, not just in helping the rich live longer and healthier lives, but also looking at scale and widespread adoption of anti-aging solutions.

Sun Genomics will be using the latest round of funding to support growth in the personalised probiotics markets, to scale delivery across the US, enter international markets, and publish studies in partnership with leading academic institutions. Sun Genomics CEO Sunny Jain described the funding announcement as “a clear indicator in the progress we have made and our future potential.”


Image by Alicia Harper from Pixabay