Micronoma, an early cancer-detection biotech that seeks to develop and commercialize a minimally invasive, microbiome-based method, announced today that it has closed a $3 million seed financing round led by microbiome-focused investor, SymBiosis, LLC.
The proceeds from funding will be used to further advance cancer detection technology with the development of pioneering microbiome research.
Micronoma was incorporated in June 2019 by its three co-founders: Sandrine Miller-Montgomery, CEO of Micronoma, previously Executive Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation; Dr. Rob Knight, Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and Greg Poore, an M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-inventor. Micronoma has exclusively licensed the original IP on microbial-based cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, created by Poore and Knight, from UC San Diego.
Micronoma’s technology has shown that distinct cancer types can be diagnosed sensitively and specifically solely using microbial nucleic acids in human blood and tissues. This approach was first demonstrated using a cancer sequencing database of >10,000 patients from 32 cancer types, then validated on >150 real-world patient samples from Moore’s Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, across three cancer types and comparing results to those from healthy, non-cancer controls. The results of the study were published in Nature in March 2020 (doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2095-1).
While Micronoma’s method is capable of querying more than one cancer type in a single small blood sample, the company will first focus on the early detection of lung cancer. Despite its high prevalence and mortality rate, lung cancer has remained challenging to detect at an early stage, including recent liquid biopsy methods focusing on cell-free tumor DNA (ctDNA) or methylation-based methods.
“Micronoma is the only company of its kind that uses the individual’s microbiome data to detect lung cancer in its early stages, so this first seed funding is a major milestone for our company,”
said Sandrine Miller-Montgomery, CEO of Micronoma.
“Between the technical expertise and business acumen of our founding teams and the strong initial financial support of our investors, we are now ready to expeditiously develop and commercialize our first assay, with an overall aim to decrease the number of preventable deaths from disease.”
The funding will also enable Micronoma to start development work and the creation of their CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) lab. The goal is to provide this new diagnostic to clinicians within the next two years.
“Advances in understanding the microbiome in recent years have led us to better understand its importance in the environment and human health in general. We are now applying this knowledge to cancer diagnostics in order to make a dent in the four-million lives lost a year to preventable cancer death,”
“By offering a novel set of biomarkers from the microbiome found in a simple blood draw, we have a potential new option for early detection. With early detection comes the prospect for early treatment with a better outcome for the patient and all involved.”