New Aus Biotech Firm Launches World-First Test to Measure Gut Bacteria

By Women Love Tech
on 7 November 2018

Australia’s first provider of ‘metagenomic’ gut microbiome sequencing technology, Microba, has recently unlocked a new milestone in the health and medical industry.

The Australian biotech firm has launched a world-first test to measure the good and bad bacteria in a person’s gut at a private event held at the Translational Research Institute, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland Australia.

The new biotechnology venture, headed-up by cervical cancer vaccine pioneer Professor Ian Frazer, is the world’s first company to offer gut microbiome ‘metagenomic’ sequencing technology direct-to-consumer, as well as to researchers and clinicians.

It aims to help the 10.7 million Australians – roughly half the population – who complain of some form of a digestive problem by providing a deeper understanding of the gut microbiome; the community of bacteria and microorganisms living in the gut.

Renowned dietitian and presenter of Catalyst’s: Gut Revolution, Dr Joanna McMillan, MC’d the event alongside Queensland Energy Minister, The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham and discussed the potential of Microba’s technology:

“As researchers learn more about how the microbes in our gut can influence health, there is the potential that in the future we will be able to improve health through manipulating the gut microbiome. Metagenomic testing has the potential to help accelerate this research.”

The technology is presented to the consumer market in the form of the Microba Insight™ Sampling Kit. It provides a comprehensive, high-resolution picture of the species of bacteria and micro-organisms residing in the gut (abundance), what they are doing (functional potential) and most importantly, information on their known health associations.

The test is significantly more accurate and comprehensive than existing methods of DNA testing for gut bacteria or longstanding approaches such as testing live cultures and is extending the frontiers of biotechnology and public wellbeing.

The technology will be made available to consumers, clinicians and researchers with the Microba Discovery Portal™ housing patients’ personalised reports in a safe and secure environment.

The kit itself is discreet, non-invasive and easy to do: all customers have to do is swab a small amount of faecal matter from their toilet paper and mail the sample back to Microba in a pre-paid package. Customers will be able to track progress via the Microba Discovery Portal™.

The user-friendly portal is educational, interactive and helps consumers make sense of their personalised report by breaking down the key findings from their microbiome sample. It also uses interactive widgets, animations, and graphs to help them understand what the microbial species in their gut may be doing.

Whilst the tool isn’t diagnostic, science continues to unearth growing links that suggest that the bacteria and microorganisms living in the gut have a huge influence on our gut health, wellbeing and even mental health.

As such, all Microba customers will have the option to participate in the Microba Future Insights Program. A program established to build a deeper understanding of the human microbiome to drive innovation in healthcare.

Each individual can choose to share their health data and make a meaningful contribution to new discoveries which may help future generations live healthier lives.

The CEO of Microba, Blake Wills has summarised:

“This technology is crucial for understanding the role that the gut microbiome can play in treating disease and improving patient outcomes. I am incredibly excited to be introducing world-leading and an Australian-first in biotechnology right out of the very institute here in Queensland that created it.

Alongside our founders, Professor Philip Hugenholtz and Professor Gene Tyson and our esteemed director, Professor Ian Frazer, I am confident we can lead the charge in metagenomic microbiome research in Australia and improve the wellbeing of individuals and families across the globe.”

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