By Monika Ghosh and Sharon Lewis This article is the last of a four-part Tech’s Year in Review series reviewing developments across industries in 2020. It discusses the world of healthtech and biotech, foodtech and agritech, and sustainability. This article is the last of a four-part [...]
bitBiome aims to boost its genomics platform bit-MAP with the fresh round of funding
Japanese microbiome analytics company bitBiome has secured a funding of JPY700 million (around US$6.6 million) in its Series B financing, the company announced in a statement today.
The fresh capital was raised from Universal Materials Incubator, a venture capital firm specializing in materials and chemical industry investments, IDATEN Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture investor, and Vital Ventures, the statement noted. Existing backer The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) also joined the round.
With the Series B round, bitBiome’s capital haul now stands at JPY1.05 billion (around US$10 million), according to the company. The funds will be utilized towards backing up the company’s proprietary microbe-focused single-cell genomics platform bit-MAP.
Specifically, the funding will enable a large-scale study by bitBiome on patient samples, collected in collaboration with Japanese clinical solutions provider QLife, for over 20 diseases.
These include cancer, intestinal diseases, autoimmune diseases, and neuropsychiatric disorders amongst others. The company’s bit-MAP platform aims to deeply analyse the relationship between oral and gut microbes and these disease states.
The statement noted that bitBiome will also be channelling the funds towards R&D efforts, investment in lab equipment, growing its global business, acquiring and maintaining intellectual property, and hiring efforts.
bitBiome also has corporate and academic partnerships in the pipelines for research on drug or biomarkers (pathological indicators) discovery, and access to data, the company said in the statement.
Partner at UTEC Atsushi Usami noted in the statement that bitBiome’s technology is able to extract comprehensive and accurate genetic information from a single microbe.
“Based on this highly accurate microbial genome database, bitBiome is providing services to create new therapeutics, diagnostics, industrial enzymes and other useful substances, as well as to elucidate the mechanisms of diseases and medicinal effects,” he said.
bitBiome was spun out of Tokyo’s Waseda University in November 2018. The company had earlier announced that it had received JPY350 million in funding from UTEC in January 2019.
Since then, the company has been beefing up its technological and operational capabilities.
Apart from bolstering business development, R&D, and administration through fresh hires and purchase of lab facilities, the company has filed for eight international patents so far, the statement noted.
It has also enhanced its bioinformatics capabilities, the statement said, by expanding the number of single cells that can be analyzed per month from 2000 to over 20,000 genomes.
“We expect that this funding will enable the company to further contribute to the development of the biotechnology industry and medical care through the participation of more commercialization members and global business expansion,” Atsushi noted in the statement.
Header image by wirestock on Freepik