UCC spin-out to provide ‘meaningful microbiome insights’ for pharma

24 Jul 2020

From left: Brad Wrigley, Dr Rich Ferrie, Dr Marcus Claesson, Brendan Curran and Prof Paul Cotter at University College Cork. Image: Science Foundation Ireland

SeqBiome’s clients already include Nestlé, Mars Petcare, Atlantia and Microbion, among others.

Today (24 July), the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork (UCC) and Teagasc announced the launch of a new spin-out company, SeqBiome.

SeqBiome will work on interactive sequencing and analysis of the gut microbiome for research and industry. Its ultimate goal will be to create “meaningful microbiome insights” for clients across pharmaceuticals, nutrition, healthcare, agriculture, sport and life sciences.

APC Microbiome Ireland’s director, Prof Paul Ross, said that this work is “perfectly aligned” with the objectives of SFI and the Government’s strategy to “deliver economic impact built on a world-class scientific knowledge base”.

“SeqBiome is a great example of APC’s ambition to translate high-quality research and state-of-the-art capability into commercial reality with the creation of increased critical mass, hi-tech jobs and economic success, centred around microbiome science,” Ross added.

SeqBiome founder and CEO Dr Marcus Claesson said that commercialising APC’s research into the microbiome will relieve industry of a process that is typically complex and time-consuming.

Analysing the microbiome requires costly sequencing facilities as well as “significant computational power and an extensive expertise in bioinformatic analysis and interpretation”, he added. Without access to these supports, businesses may miss out on “meaningful and reliable” insights into how the products they’re working on will affect the microbiome.

SeqBiome already has a number of clients and partners, including Nestlé, Mars Petcare, Atlantia, Alpinia Institute, Microbion and the PrecisionBiotics Group.

“We’re building a vastly experienced team with a shared vision to help these and other organisations develop world-class products that make a real difference to microbiome health,” Claesson said.

‘A tremendous milestone’

Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI and chief scientific adviser to the Government, said that SeqBiome demonstrates the “strength of the Irish research ecosystem” in commercialising and bringing “cutting-edge research” to market.

“It highlights the important role played by the SFI Research Centres in advancing knowledge, enhancing enterprise and industry, developing critical skills and growing Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence,” Ferguson said.

Prof Anita Maguire, VP of research and innovation at UCC, added that the launch of the spin-out is a “tremendous milestone” for the researchers at APC.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021