The Microbiome Biotech Landscape: An Analysis of the Pharmaceutical Pipeline

Microbiome science is rapidly expanding to pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Here, Sandwalk BioVentures present their analysis of the market of these emerging pharmabiotics companies.


The microbiome is one of the hottest areas in biotechnology, as countless studies have linked its composition and activity with human disease1,2, especially in illnesses of poorly understood mechanisms, with high medical unmet needs. Some authors have even proposed that the definition of communicable disease may have to be revisited after advances in microbiome science have shown some ailments believed to be noncommunicable may be transmitted through microbes3,4. This why it has been referred to as a forgotten organ5  which may thus be the missing link to better diagnose and potentially cure many diseases. This has made thousands of companies focus their attention on it.

Microbiome research has traditionally been performed by food companies developing probiotics and prebiotics. However, over the last years, and thanks to recent discoveries of how human disease and resident bacteria are interconnected, the field is also capturing attention from pharmaceutical companies which see the microbiome as a tool to develop new blockbuster drugs. This is why a number of biotechs, mostly startups, have launched microbiome-centric research programs.

The information employed to create this article was extracted from an analysis of the Microbiome Drug Database™, a comprehensive repository for pharmabiotic companies and research programs, powered by Sandwalk BioVentures and supported by The Microbiome Times. We scanned the landscape of biotechnology companies developing these and found a total of 203 entities which met our inclusion criteria (we excluded, amongst others, universities and research institutes; food or cosmetics companies; service providers like CMOs, CROs or sampling or sequencing companies; developers of non-highly-selective antimicrobials, vaccines and oncolytic viruses; as well as big pharmas with which the original microbiome drug developers have partnered). These companies we analyzed are collectively working on 650 active research programs. We additionally analyzed some key financials of these companies to have a full scientific, clinical, regulatory and economic view of the entire sector..

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