Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Personalised nutrition startup offers microbiome insights and customised probiotics

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Startup company Innovation Probiotics

A Berlin-based startup launched in 2017 is offering a gut health testing and personalised nutrition service with the addition of customised probiotic supplements.

Founded by visionary Dr Paul Hammer, a doctor of systems biology and bioinformatics with a passion for microbiome science, BIOMES​ aims to help consumers understand the makeup of their own microbiome and how they can influence it through diet and lifestyle.

The customer sends a small stool sample in the post and their microbiota profile is analysed using next-generation sequencing. Taking this, alongside their demographic information and dietary preferences, BIOMES provides a nutrition plan, as well as recommendations for probiotics supplements suited to their specific needs.

The information provided to the customer is designed to be both rich in detail and user-friendly.

Dr Hammer, BIOMES CEO, says it is quite a challenge to make sure they are providing the right level of detail when customers have such varying levels of education on the subject.

“The dashboard shows the customer their overall intestinal flora level score out of 100, as well as telling them the levels of each specific strain of bacteria. Rather than just providing lots of numbers, we provide the information through imagery with a scale showing them if this quantity is 'improvable' or 'good'.

"The customer then clicks on this result to get recommendations on what they could eat to try to increase the level of that bacteria. If they click these recommendations they can also see the list of research reports which back up our recommendations. They can then read those reports themselves.”

To keep things simple, the dashboard tells customers their ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ from a large range of indicators: diversity, inflammation, constipation, appetite, cholesterol, energy metabolism, immunity, intestinal barriers, cytotoxins, cardiovascular wellness, sleep, caloric intake. 

When it comes to offering personalised probiotics, the company works with a supplier in Germany to offer seven different supplements, each with a set of targeted probiotic strains scientifically linked with specific health concerns such as: immune deficiency, accompanying antibiotics, histamine intolerance, against intestinal complaints or supporting a change in diet with the aim of losing weight

BIOMES is currently primarily a D2C company but Dr Hammer can see the tests working well as a service provided by health professionals.

The ultimate aim for the business is to be able to offer a subscription service which will involve the customer taking regular tests every few months, and comparing the results, in order to see how dietary changes influence microbial diversity.

“Our company has two key audiences – the self-optimising consumer who enjoys tracking their health data and working to improve their health. Then you have the consumers who are suffering from digestion problems such as IBS, food intolerance, or immune weakness.”

The biologist adds that with a team of 60 staff, including data scientists, all work is done in-house so customers can feel confident that their data is not being passed around multiple companies.

The company's expansion plans have been somewhat delayed by the pandemic as it was called on by the government to set up a COVID-19 test track, which has been used to process thousands of corona samples from Berlin and Brandenburg.




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