Israeli Gut Microbiome Startup Lands Mayo Clinic Venture Backing
The Mayo Clinic said it is making a seed-round venture investment in an Israeli startup seeking to commercialize the first-ever “actionable health solution” based on readings of gut bacteria, otherwise know as the human microbiome.
Mayo’s Center for Individualized Medicine revealed in December it is participating in a Series A financing round for DayTwo Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel. The amount of the investment wasn’t specified.
As part of the relationship, Mayo researcher Dr. Heidi Nelson is collaborating with DayTwo on using microbiome data to produce individualized diet and wellness regimens for patients, which are meant to overcome the conundrum of why similar therapies work for some patients and not for others.
The goal of the collaboration and venture investment is to move the DayTwo Personalized Nutrition Solution through clinical trials—to be managed by Dr. Nelson—and into the U.S. market.
The startup’s tech platform taps medical and machine-learning research performed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, led by scientific cofounders Eran Segal and Dr. Eran Elinav. The result was the development of an algorithm for predicting individualized blood glucose response to different foods based on gut microbiome information and other personal parameters.
The algorithm was further refined by DayTwo and the Weizmann Institute, and the company asserts it can now predict blood sugar response to thousands of different foods and meals. Once it gains market clearance, it will be marketed as a “significant health benefit” for those seeking to balance their levels of blood sugar, which is linked to energy dips, excessive hunger, weight gain, and increased risk for diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
”We’re thrilled to work with Mayo Clinic as we enter the U.S. market, targeting health-conscious and pre-diabetic individuals,” DayTwo CEO Lihi Segal said in an issued statement. “Providing our solution to U.S. consumers in a clinical trial setting with Mayo Clinic allows us to calibrate our predictive algorithm for the U.S. market.”
Dr. Nelson, director of the microbiome program at Mayo’s Center for Individualized Medicine, says her research is aimed at figuring out “why one diet works for one person, but not another.” She said in a Mayo blog post that studies such as hers are now advancing to the point where “we are beginning to understand that how a person processes food depends upon that individual’s gut microbiome, immune system and the community of bacteria in the gut.
“This is where the concept of designing individualized diets was developed. Given these multiple factors, we are exploring ways to develop customized diets that will maintain wellness and prevent the development of disease.”
Mayo says the Israeli scientists successfully developed an algorithmic model to predict how people’s glucose level would change after eating a variety of foods. Based on that model, they created customized diets appropriate for each person, including their “top five” breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as appropriate snacks to maintain their health.