UC Davis microbiome spinout rebrands infant supplement business with nature focus
When Kaile Zagger took the helm of UC Davis spinout Evolve Biosystems several months ago, the company billed itself as a probiotic maker.
However, she believes the company’s Evivo supplement designed to help infants develop a healthy gut microbiome is “so much more” — and that, she said, calls for a rebrand.
Evolve has, well, evolved into Infinant Health, the company announced on Monday. The new name is a mash-up of the words “infant” and “infinite,” representing the company’s goal of expanding beyond infant care. While its sole product, Evivo, is intended for newborns, Infinant is “quickly developing” an option for kids through the age of two.
“It isn’t just about the baby at birth, it’s really about taking care of the baby, as a fetus and all the way through until the microbiome of the baby at the age of two becomes a little bit more adult-like,” Zagger said.
Evivo launched back in 2017 to address the 97% of babies who are missing a key beneficial gut bacteria, Infinant said at the time. While babies are supposed to receive a bacteria called B. infantis from mothers at birth, research suggests that factors such as C-sections, formula feeding and even side effects of antibiotics can lead to a depletion of the so-called “good bacteria,” according to the company. Without it, harmful bacteria dominate the gut, which can raise the risk for conditions such as eczema or obesity.
The supplement is available as an oil for use via feeding tube in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or as a powder to be mixed into breast milk.
“When I think about, you know, the brand and what we stand for, we are all about bringing babies back to nature’s most intended state,” Zagger said.
Nature is a key theme in the rebrand. The new logo features black lettering and gold bubbles. Those metallic colors are symbolic of the periodic table, she said, adding that it’s all about the messaging. The company’s office also features a 50-foot moss wall and waterfalls.
Back in 2014, regulators issued a warning against using certain dietary supplements after the death of a pre-term infant who took Solgar’s probiotic ABC Dophilus. Solgar later issued a voluntary recall.
“In considering the use of any dietary supplement, clinicians should consider that the FDA does not regulate these products as drugs,” the CDC said in a warning.
The microbiome space has seen a good deal of activity lately, as several startups look to use spores from bacteria to restore the proper microbial balance needed to maintain health and fight infections like C. difficile, a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections in the US. Enterome landed a $40 million deal with Nestlé Health Science just a couple months ago. However, the field hasn’t been spared from biotech’s recent hard times, with Vedanta Biosciences and Finch Therapeutics among those enacting layoffs earlier this year.
“For me, as a mom of two, putting something synthetic inside of my baby’s bellies was never anything I was willing to do, but something that was borne out of nature and the way nature really intended the babies to come into the world is something I would be wildly excited about and wanting to do,” Zagger said about the product, which is designed to mimic a bacteria that’s normally produced naturally.
Infinant has secured some big-name backers, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and J&J’s venture arm, the Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation.
“We think we’ve got a bit of the modern day penicillin,” Zagger said. “We’re looking forward to the future.”