Microbiome test maker uBiome cuts 55 jobs to sharpen focus on drugs, partnerships — CNBC
A California-based startup called uBiome, which maps the ecosystem of microbes in the body to develop tests evaluating gut and vaginal health, is reportedly cutting 55 jobs from its 300-person workforce.
Founded in 2012 via a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $350,000 to facilitate a microbiome study, uBiome has since attracted funding from Y Combinator, 8VC, OS Fund and has hauled in more than $100 million in venture capital.
The company has laid off 30 workers in the United States, and a further 25 overseas, CFO Joel Jung and CEO Jessica Richman told CNBC, adding that the layoffs came about as the company focuses its resources on drugs and partnerships with drugmakers.
A number of drug developers such as Seres, Rebiotix and Vedanta are hoping to harness the insights gained from gut microbiota to develop drugs. Globally, hundreds of trials are underway testing the potential of fecal transplant therapy — which involves the transfer of stool flush with healthy microbes — into patients suffering from various illnesses from autism to obesity.
Meanwhile, uBiome — which counts a number of leading scientists from UCSF and Harvard, including geneticist George Church, on its scientific advisory board — has released a handful of tests designed to gauge microbial health.
Their first test — called Explorer — was developed to help individuals learn more about their microbiome using DNA sequencing. Since then uBiome has launched more targeted tests, designed to evaluate gut health, vaginal health and the microbes that may be implicated in patients’ flu symptoms.
Last year, the company’s board received considerable attention when uBiome recruited former controversial Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez to the board via investor 8VC.