Startup That Analyzes Bacteria in Feces Gets Backed by UChicago Fund

BiomeSense, a startup developing biosensors that can detect particular kinds of bacteria in patients’ feces that could help improve the efficacy of clinical trials, won the University of Chicago’s Innovation Fund finals and an investment of up to $250,000 from the college.

The finals, which took place May 31, featured five startups that presented their ventures to the Innovation Fund advisory committee at the college’s Polsky Exchange in Hyde Park. The Innovation Fund is designed to invest in startups created by the college’s faculty, students and staff.

BiomeSense is founded by Jack Gilbert, a professor of surgery at UChicago Medicine and the faculty director of the college’s Microbiome Center, Savas Tay, an associate professor at the Institute of Molecular Engineering, and Kevin Honaker, a recent graduate of UChicago’s Booth School of Business. Their sensors are based on research Gilbert and Tay have been working on for several years.

“The bacteria in your poop tells you a lot about your health,” Gilbert said in an interview with Chicago Inno. “We can use this information to tell you how you’re responding to a drug or to predict how you might respond to a drug. [Our] technology can help us improve clinical trials outcomes and develop new drugs.”

Gilbert said the sensors are designed for patients to use in their home, using a toilet accessory that captures samples of their feces. Data on what’s in it is then sent to a cloud where researchers and physicians can monitor and study it.

Honaker said the startup would begin by selling their device to researchers, who would then prescribe it to patients in their clinical trials. Eventually, the sensors could be sold directly to consumers, similarly to how 23andMe is sold.

Other finalists in the Innovation Fund finals this year included FORSEEaBILL, a tech platform that helps research hospitals, contract research organizations and biopharmaceutical companies identify the appropriate payer for tests and procedures patients undergo during a clinical trial, and LiveBeat, which makes a wearable device for pregnant women that allows them to monitor their baby’s heartrate.

Additionally, Nanopattern Technologies, a startup that uses nano-materials to produce next-generation screens for computers, televisions and phones, and SafeRate, a mortgage platform for payment borrowers that helps reduce foreclosures and enhance returns for mortgage investors, also competed.

“The five teams presenting in this cycle’s finals represent the Physical Sciences Division, the Biological Sciences Division, the Medical Center, and Booth School of Business,” said Nancy Harvey, managing director and director of technology commercialization at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in a statement. “I have no doubt that they will follow the successful companies before them that have gone on to raise external capital and build exciting businesses.”

 

Source: Startup That Analyzes Bacteria in Feces Gets Backed by UChicago Fund

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