23andMe, IBM and now uBiome is the next tech company to jump into the lucrative multi-billion dollar drug discovery market.
The company started out with a consumer gut health test to check whether your intestines carry the right kind of bacteria for healthy digestion but has since expanded to include over 250,000 samples for everything from the microbes on your skin to vaginal health — the largest data set in the world for these types of samples, according to the company.
Founder Jessica Richman now says there’s a wider opportunity to use this data to create value in therapeutics.
To support its new drug discovery efforts, the San Francisco-based startup will be moving its therapeutics unit into new Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters and appointing former Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez to the board of directors as well.
The company has a healthy pile of cash to help build out that new HQ, too, with a fresh $ 83 million Series C, lead by OS Fund and in participation with 8VC, Y Combinator, Dentsu Ventures and others.
The drug discovery market is slated to be worth nearly $ 86 billion by 2022, according to BCC Research numbers. New technologies — those that solve logistics issues and shorten the time between research and getting a drug to market in particular — are driving the growth and that’s where uBiome thinks it can get into the game.
“This financing allows us to expand our product portfolio, increase our focus on patent assets and further raise our clinical profile, especially as we begin to focus on commercialization of drug discovery and development of our patent assets,” Richman said.
Though its unclear at this time which drug maker the company might partner up with, Richman did say there would be plenty to announce later on that front.
So far, the company has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers on microbiome research, has entered into research partnerships with the likes of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and leading research institutions such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford and has previously raised $ 22 million in funding. The additional VC cash puts the total amount raised to $ 105 million to date.