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Juno Bio launches a vaginal microbiome test kit — targeting the women’s health data gap – TechCrunch


Entrepreneur First -backed Juno Bio has launched a house take a look at package for ladies eager to get a greater understanding of their vaginal microbiome whereas additionally contributing knowledge to additional analysis into girls’s well being.

The vaginal microbiome refers back to the group of microbes and micro organism that naturally stay within the vagina. Variances within the vaginal microbiome are thought to have implications for ladies’s well being situations — similar to recurrent bacterial-vaginosis or the next threat of contracting an STI, and even preterm beginning and infertility. However a historic lack of analysis into girls’s well being points means there’s nonetheless an extended technique to go to completely perceive what’s occurring. (Or certainly tips on how to intervene to appropriate an unhealthy imbalance.)

That’s the place Juno Bio desires to return in.

Final yr the 2018-founded UK startup ran a study within the US that gathered samples from greater than 1,000 girls to construct up a repository of knowledge on the vaginal microbiome. That preliminary data-set underpins the industrial Vaginal Microbiome Take a look at package it’s launching at this time — at a price of $149 (which incorporates free delivery).

Ladies who pay to be screened will obtain a take a look at package within the put up. They then perform a pattern gathering process at dwelling, passing a Q-tip like swab throughout the partitions of their vagina for round 20 seconds and sealing the pattern within the tube supplied (with stabilizing brokers) to return it by put up to Juno Bio for evaluation.

As soon as the pattern has been processed the consumer can be invited to log in on-line and examine her outcomes, with the choice to guide a one-on-one name with a Juno Bio “vaginal coach” to debate the info.

It’s value emphasizing that the startup is being cautious to caveat what sort of service it’s providing.

A disclaimer on its web site states the assessments are “presently completely supposed for use for wellness functions” — and it additional provides: “The assessments we provide should not supposed to diagnose or deal with illness, or to substitute for a doctor’s session.”

Juno Bio confirms the take a look at is solely a industrial provide for now — though it says it’s engaged on “a regulated model” so it is going to be in a position to inform scientific resolution making on this space sooner or later, beginning with the US which is its preliminary market focus (although take a look at kits are additionally obtainable within the UK).

“For positive we’re not changing a health care provider right here,” says CEO and co-founder Hana Janebdar, in a name with PJDM. “There’s actually two buckets of girls, in case you like, that have a tendency to affix the Juno Research or pre-order a take a look at. And the primary girl is somebody who desires to be very proactive about her basic wellness and needs to know extra about her physique — and this is without doubt one of the greatest methods that you would be able to find out about your microbes and what which means in your vaginal wellness and your pH and so forth.

“The opposite girls are girls who might have had recurrent bacterial vaginosis or recurrent infections and wish to know extra about what it’s that’s inflicting it doubtlessly — and so she desires a complete image of her vaginal microbiome. As a result of in case you go and try to determine, proper now, what’s inflicting your bacterial vaginosis utilizing present strategies of prognosis they’re not all the time probably the most useful. So whereas that ought to all the time be the primary port of name, and girls ought to all the time go to their physician after they assume they’ve a problem, that is an extremely vital useful resource with regards to wellness for lots of girls.”

“There are 10% of girls in America, for example, who’ve recurrent bacterial vaginosis — which is only one situation of the vaginal microbiome. And it’s one of many highest recurrent charges in medication,” she provides. “And partly as a result of the diagnostics are horrible on this house.”

One other of the startup’s buyers is life sciences large, Illumina, which is offering the DNA sequencing know-how it’s utilizing to evaluation the samples, per Janebdar.

“That is the primary complete vaginal microbiome take a look at package that’s obtainable that’s subsequent era sequencing primarily based,” she says of the take a look at package. “Clearly vaginal testing has existed for some time however nobody has actually used subsequent era sequencing — which is the know-how that permits a extremely complete image of what all of the microbes which are within the vagina are. And that’s what’s wanted to A) unravel the vaginal microbiome and its affect on girls’s lives and fertility and well being, after which B) to present girls truly the total image of what these microbes are.”

“The situations which have been related to the vaginal microbiome — like BV, or recurrent yeast infections and even the downstream situations like pelvic inflammatory illness — they’ve traditionally been poorly characterised. So the prognosis which have existed up to now have been [poor at determining] when and what girls have these situations and subsequently what one of the best therapies ought to be,” she provides.

Janebdar says the prevailing scientific understanding has been {that a} Lactobacillus dominant vaginal microbiome is wholesome — however newer research recommend a extra nuanced understanding is required.

“What’s grow to be clear within the literature is that perhaps that’s not all the time be the case. And in addition the kind of Lactobacilli is vital. And in addition there’s actually vital variations between the vaginal microbiomes and what wholesome may appear to be for caucasian girls vs African American girls, for example,” she notes.

Her background features a diploma in biology and a masters in biochemical engineering — together with particular work on microbiome science. It was through her expertise of the analysis area that she says she realized there was an enormous hole in girls’s well being analysis.

Juno Bio CEO and co-founder, Hana Janebdar (Photograph credit score: Juno Bio)

“What actually shocked me what that whereas there was this explosion of analysis and work and commercialization of the intestine microbiome and the soil microbiome and each microbiome below the earth that you possibly can consider the vaginal microbiome had been comparatively ignored,” she says, going again to 2017-18 and her inspiration for the startup.

“It actually shocked me due to all of the microbiomes the vaginal microbiome was probably the most readily accessible, probably the most readily related to the situations that would enhance girls’s lives and there have been so many ladies which have these situations — it was actually a way of cling on, what’s going on? And why is that this simply so extremely ignored?” she provides. “This must be mounted.

“As an Afghan girl — girls’s rights and the truth that girls are ignored, and medical well being analysis has been sidelined with regards to girls — it’s a really core a part of my precise expertise as properly.

Juno Bio’s final purpose is to assemble sufficient knowledge and understanding to have the ability to provide “microbial interventions” that can be utilized to appropriate problematic imbalances, per Janebdar.

“One of many saddest issues… is the truth that microbial interventions might work however having it on this wishy-washy, probiotic, kombucha land has meant that folks haven’t absolutely realized it’s actual potential — and it’s actually thrilling that within the intestine microbiome house, which is analogous to us, first the primary time this yr you’re seeing form of section three authorised microbial interventions for the intestine. So I see the vaginal house as analogous to that. And that is the type of stuff that the Juno data-sets will unlock.”

These shelling out to donate their vaginal microbiome knowledge to Juno Bio’s repository are promised it is going to be “anonymized” — although clearly hyperlinks can be retained to some particular person knowledge factors, similar to age and ethnicity.

The startup’s privacy policy can be found here — the place it writes: “The data we use in Analysis is usually summarised, aggregated, or mixed throughout a gaggle of topics to reduce the prospect of identification.”

“Within the occasion we require use of individual-level Personally Identifiable Data in Analysis or for different functions, we are going to attain out to you and acquire particular consents relevant to such different use,” it provides.

Juno Bio is being suggested by Dr Gregory Buck, Ph.D., who was the principal investigator on the Vaginal Human Microbiome Mission (VaHMP) and the Multi Omic Microbiome Research Being pregnant Initiative (MOMS PI) — two research that had been a part of the US Nationwide Institutes of Well being Human Microbiome Mission.

Commenting in a press release concerning the launch of the take a look at package, Buck stated: “Whereas earlier research have labored to characterize the vaginal microbiome, these research have typically been restricted in inhabitants measurement, make the most of restricted gene sequences and lack metadata. Because of this, current research now lack knowledge and a complete pressure financial institution of vaginally related microbes. Having devoted a lot of my profession to researching microbiomes of the feminine reproductive tract, I’m assured that the Vaginal Microbiome Take a look at will create one of many richest analysis repositories of knowledge for future analysis into vaginal well being and associated points. Not solely that, however it is going to assist change the stigma round vaginal wellness for the higher.”

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Natasha Lomas