Scientific exploration of the microbiome represents the opening of one of the greatest new areas of science in decades, perhaps centuries. It has the potential to rival Einstein’s impact on physics or the double helix on understanding biology. While young, this area shows historic potential across a dizzying expanse of health and human experience.
The biome may be a main vector in how genetics and the body interact, explaining why similar genes can generate variable outcomes among populations. It may be the pathway by which the body influences the brain and vice versa. It could be the pathway for food as preventive medicine. It could hold the key to extending healthspan and lifespan. It utterly defines novel new approaches to the prevention and treatment of diseases, from athlete’s foot to liver cancer. The potential is transformational and unbounded.
However, too much choice isn’t always a good thing. When we consider investing in microbiome companies, we need to be focused and disciplined. We must recognize that most projects, while dazzling, will probably fail. For these reasons, we plan a vigilant and careful approach to Microbiome investment for the rest of 2020.
We will invest in therapeutic, genomic, and food-as-medicine microbiome startups as long as they follow our stringent diligence. Each investment must address a large consumer pain point, have proof of concept, demonstrate a big influence on patient/consumer outcomes, and have a clear business model and target consumers. Our investments should also have experienced leaders who can cope with unexpected and radical change. The course of these companies will not run smoothly.
We will also invest in pro-and post- biotics and food-related microbiome approaches as long as they have novel science. Here, companies must address a large consumer pain point, have proof of concept, demonstrate a big influence on patient/consumer outcome, own novel IP, and have a clear business model and target consumers.
We will not invest in microbiome companies with ”soft” or no science, even if it means we pass on some short-term hits. Stunning market traction, while tempting, should not divert us from a focus on real science here. In this area more than any other we need to recognize that we are judged by what we pick, not what we pass on.