Korean genome co invests A$4m to take Queensland microbiome project global

20 Jun 2019

Seoul-based genome specialist, Macrogen, has agreed a A$4.1 million investment in the Queensland microbiome testing and bioinformatics company, Microba

Macrogen is a precision medicine and biotechnology company based at the Genomic Medicine Institute of the Seoul National University College of Medicine. The majority-stake investment will give Microba access to Macrogen’s global sales and business networks.

According to Blake Willis, Chief Executive, Microba, the tie-up should accelerate a global roll-out of microbiome-based diagnostic and treatment services.

‘This investment will enable Microba to enhance gut microbiome analysis technology, and strengthen global business capabilities,’ he says. ‘Based on the global networks of both companies we plan to launch microbiome services in the US and the Asia Pacific regions.’

Microbiome research is a fast-growing field of clinical science. Researchers anticipate that insight into patients’ microbiomes – or gut bacteria – will help personalise treatments.

The ability to manipulate patients’ microbiomes may also boost immune systems and the efficacy of some treatments, including especially oncology treatments.

According to Kap-Seok Yang, chief executive Macrogen, the Korean company’s investment is focused on the commercialisation of microbiome research.

‘Through this agreement, we expect to generate new revenues in the microbiome market with competitive services in the bioinformatics pipeline of Microba and the global network of Macrogen,’ he says.

Microba was founded by two world-leading experts in microbiome analysis – Professor Philip Hugenholtz and Professor Gene Tyson. The company conducts research into gut microbiomes, and has developed its own testing technology and service.

The Australian government is currently investing in Microbiome research in Australia, with a $4 million grant to establish the Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) in Sydney in 2017.

In 2018, Microba won the Australian Emerging Company of the Year accolade at the AusBiotech National Conference.