San Diego Startup Turns To Custom Probiotics To Solve Health Issues Esha Chhabra Gut health is the key to healing a lot of diseases, says Sunny Jain, founder of Sun Genomics, a San Diego-based health startup that makes customized probiotics for customers. Jain, a microbiologist by training who had worked at a number of testing companies such as LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, and Illumina, discovered that his newly born son in 2016 had GI issues. The doctors were not able to prescribe him medicines, because he was too young. Instead of accepting the diagnosis as a condition his son would have to manage, Jain set out to see what could be done to improve his son’s health. He started with testing his poop. It was there he found unhealthy strains of bacteria in large numbers. “We could see that these strains can lead to inflammation in the body. I tested my stool too for a comparison to see what a healthier adult gut looks like. And then I went down the rabbit hole of researching different strains and their impact,” he says. After spending $30,000 in tests, many of which he put on his personal credit card (and worked as an Uber driver to supplement his income), and researching the ins-and-outs of healthy bacteria strains, Jain formulated a customized probiotic for his son. Soon after, he started to see some improvement. Inspired by this success story, Jain got the idea of building a company that could do something similar for others. After testing a lot of the probiotics on the market, he found that many of them didn’t even have the probiotic strains in them, as stated on the label, and others just didn’t make it to the gut to help. Yet, the gut microbiome, he knew, was critical to overall health. “We’ve seen that there is an absolute connection between our gut microbiome and other microbiomes in our body, such as in the mouth, skin, lungs, and the connection between gut and the brain, with bacteria simulating neurotransmitters in some way.” Using data compiled by the Human Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project, Sun Genomics has integrated that information with its existing technology, resulting in a database with more than 100,000 genomes. They can track fungi, parasites, and viruses in addition to bacteria. In 2016 when Jain started exploring this space, there were few products, if any, that offered such a customized approach. After self-funding the initial year of research and development, Jain took his concept to investors. He started local with the San Diego venture capital community, and then went to San Francisco to take part in IndieBio, an accelerator focused on biology-related tech and business. Not only was he able to convince investors, but the managing general partner of IndieBio Sean O’Sullivan had a child with autism and was also looking at customized solutions that could help. The personal connect, Jain says, really helped him understand what they were trying to solve. He connected Jain and his colleagues to researchers at Arizona State University who were looking at how gut health could impact autism. Subsequently, Sun Genomics began a study in 2020 with Arizona State University putting patients on a customized formula for three months to see if there was improvement across the board improvement. Jain has now raised capital and built out a company that has a unique offering in the probiotics industry: he calls them “precision probiotics.” Each customer is sent a stool kit, from which the company maps out his/her gut, and the genomic testing results are available to view on an app. Rather than guessing which probiotics could help, he says they’re able to pick strains they know will be more effective, based on research. Plus, they offer guidance, through their in-house scientist Shirin Treadwell who is happy to talk to customers one-on-one about their health. Along with research on autism, Sun Genomics is supporting programs in San Diego designed to better understand Crohn’s disease and colitis. “We have a science-first approach. We really want to help people improve their health, and if we can do that by supporting the research, we’ll do that.” Similarly, during the pandemic, Jain says his team looked at how COVID affects gut health; there’s a notable connection, he says, which is why we’re seeing COVID show up in waste water and stool samples. “The virus does reach the intestines and for some patients that results in gut-related symptoms.” Overall, Jain notes that since he started the company, the interest in the human gut microbiome has increased exponentially. “I’ve never seen a field of study blow up like this. Every specialist is doing a microbiome analysis, and it’s every field of study. There are now about 60,000 papers printed on the topic.” Yet the research component of the company is pricey. Jain is trying to offer the service at an affordable price, but he acknowledges that it’s not possible to do rock-bottom rates because testing is costly. Plus, he divulges a few trade secrets: some probiotics have a lot of the cheaper strains in larger quantities because it’s cost-effective for the business, but that’s not necessarily better for the gut, he says. Sun Genomics’ probiotics range in potency, based on a person’s specific needs. Some are as low as 1 to 2 billion CFU, especially for children, to all the way at 150 billion CFUs for adults needing a gut overhaul. They use a combination of soil-based and non soil-based bacterial strains, which the company encourages customers to refrigerate on arrival, but they’ll also weather room temps for 30 days. While some functional medicine doctors in California have started recommending Sun Genomics to their patients to determine the root cause of their dysbiosis, Jain is hopeful that this customized approach will become more mainstream, gaining the attention of gastroenterologists who often see patients with IBS, IBD, reflux, and other common ailments, many of which could be improved by a better examination of the gut. Getting a window into one’s health has been a bit of trial-and-error thus far to see what’s missing or what’s in excess. Yet, Sun Genomics is part of a growing community of health startups with a more tailored approach, which could open the door for further research on not just gut-related illnesses, but a variety of diseases that are connected to chronic inflammation and dysbiosis.
圣地亚哥新公司面向定制益生菌以解决健康问题 伊莎˙查布拉 “肠胃健康是治愈很多疾病的关键”，太阳基因公司创始人SUNNY JAIN说到。 这是一个为客户定制益生菌的以圣地亚哥为基础的生命健康公司。 Jain，一个在Lab Corp、Quest Diagnostics、IIIumina等检验公司培训工作的微生物学家。在2016年发现他的新生儿有血糖问题。医生们不能给他开药，因为他年龄太小了。Jain开始看看他能为增进他儿子健康做什么，而不是接受诊断结果而考虑后事的安排。他开始验便，就是在这时他发现了大量的不健康菌株。 “我们可以看到这些毒株可以导致身体的发炎。我同时也测试了我的厕所作为对比来看看一个健康成年人的肠胃是怎样的。然后我落入了一个研究不同毒株和他们作用的无底洞。”他说到。 他花费了30000多美元在测验上，这些钱大都来自他个人信用卡和做优步司机用以支持的收入，而且在他研究了健康菌株的详细信息之后，Jain为他的儿子研制了一个定制益生菌。很快，他看到了一些改善。 被这个故事成功激励的Jain有了一个创建为他人解决相似问题的公司的想法。在他检验了市面上的很多益生菌产品之后，他发现很多标签上写着益生菌的产品甚至就没有益生菌菌株，还有些就没有给肠胃起作用。因此，他知道，肠道微生物决定着所有人的健康。 我们看到肠道菌群和我们体内的其他菌群有个完全的联系，比如说在嘴、皮肤、肺和我们的脑子、肠胃的联系的都是通过一些途径来模拟神经递质的作用。 据编译自人类微生物工程和美国肠道计划的数据，太阳基因用已存在的技术整理了信息，导出超过100，000的基因结果。他们可以追踪真菌，寄生虫和病毒还有细菌。 在2016年Jain开始探索这片领域时，当时没有任何产品有像这样一个定制的途径，如果说有的话。在研究和发展自我筹备的第一年后，Jain带着他的理念给投资者们。他从本地圣地亚哥风投开始，然后去旧金山参加一个生物相关技术和经济的加速器——IndieBio。 他不仅使投资者们信服，而且Indie Bio合作者兼总管SeanO’Sullivan有一个自闭症的孩子正好也在寻求一个定制的解决方案的帮助。 Jain说人事关系是实在地帮助了他们去理解要努力解决什么。他联系Jain和他的同事和在亚利桑那州立大学寻找肠胃健康如何作用于自闭症的研究者。 随后，在2020年太阳基因和亚利桑那州立大学开始了一个研究，实验使病人处于一个持续三个月的定制方案中，去观察是否相对普通的进步外有更大的进步。 Jain现在已经筹集好资金和创办好了一个有独一无二供应品的益生菌工业的公司，他称之为精准益生菌。它为每个顾客提供一个排泄物套件，公司可以从中映射分析出他的肠道，然后基因测试结果可以在一个APP上看得到。他说他们能提取依据研究知道会变得更加有效的菌株， 另外，他们提供指导，通过一个乐于和顾客面对面交流他们健康的公司内部科学家ShirinTreadwell。 随着自闭症的研究，太阳基因在支持着一个在圣地亚哥的项目，项目被设计去更好的理解克罗恩氏病和结肠炎。