“The funds will support ongoing clinical activities, operational expansion, and the launch of the company's unique, activated probiotic and prebiotic products, which restore the infant gut microbiome to its natural state, allowing proper metabolic and immune development,” said the company in a press release. The company also aims to develop and commercialize additional products for animal health.
The investment round was led by Spruce Capital Partners/MLS with participation from existing shareholders, including Horizons Ventures and Tate & Lyle Ventures. New investors Bow Capital and Acre Venture Partners also participated in the financing.
“The completion of Series B funding is a significant milestone for Evolve BioSystems and a testament to our groundbreaking work at the intersection of infant nutrition and the microbiome,” said Dr. David Kyle, CEO of Evolve BioSystems. “The investment will accelerate our efforts to commercialize products to restore the microbiome of the newborn gut, providing a foundation for optimal health for infants worldwide.”
The infant microbiome
Evolve is a spinoff from the Foods for Health Institute at the University of California, Davis. The company’s products are based on a decade of research into the developing infant microbiome and its relationship with the natural nutrients in human breast milk.
The research focuses on Bifidobacterium infantis, which is passed from mother to baby during vaginal birth through fecal/oral transfer (moms poop during birth), explaining why babies delivered via c-section are not exposed. Meanwhile, breastmilk contains human milk oligosaccharides (prebiotics) that provide food for the B. infantis in the baby’s gut and help it flourish, explaining why the gut microbiome of formula-fed babies are also less likely to contain B. infantis.
“Evolve BioSystems embodies the scientific rigor, the technology enablement and the innovative drive at UC Davis,” said Dr. Dushyant Pathak, Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Management & Corporate Relations and Executive Director of Venture Catalyst, in the Office of Research at UC Davis. “Evolve is exactly the type of company we envision thriving within our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Speaking recently with our sister site FoodNavigator-USA, Dr Kyle explained that even breastfed babies delivered vaginally may still have low/zero levels of B. infantis today because their moms may have undergone several courses of antibiotics in their lifetime such that they no longer have any B. infantis to pass on.
“Even if you’re doing everything right [from the perspective of the microbiome] in the sense that you’re breastfeeding and you have a vaginal birth, babies born today can still be dysbiotic because they are not being inoculated with B. infantis from their Moms.
“Millennial Moms today from the time they are born to the time they have their first baby have had on average 15-20 courses of antibiotics, so this organism is just gone. But babies in Rwanda, Bangladesh or the Amazon are chock-a-block full of B. infantis.
“This is a western world issue that is probably a generational loss. What really surprised us in our [latest clinical] trial [with 70 babies in California] is that while 80% of the c-section-delivered babies had no bifidobacteria at all, this was also the case with more than 50% of the vaginally delivered breastfed babies,” he said.
Evolve’s first product - launching in the next couple of months - is a refrigerated sachet (that can be stored frozen) containing activated B. infantis that breastfeeding Moms can mix with breastmilk and give to babies via a dropper.