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The microbiome market will see its value rise to $500m by 2022, and higher during the next decade. The key driver will be the increase in biotech and pharma firms looking at the emerging research space for new therapeutic options to treat chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

Investment in microbiome research, specifically in the gut, is expected to increase substantially over the next 10 years – alongside the launch of several new firms dedicated to this science – as interest in bacterial treatments grows with the accumulation of data from active players. Venture capital group Seventure Partners has already launched a new €160m fund, HealthForLife Capital, focusing solely on microbiome investments, to ride this wave of enthusiasm.


In 2016, the global microbiome market was estimated to be worth around $184m, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +19%, leading to a market worth $500m by 2022


To date, the gut microbiome is the most closely studied niche and abnormalities of the gut microbiome (collectively known as dysbiosis) have been linked to various diseases – especially the difficult-to-treat infections associated with Clostridium difficile and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) like Crohn’s disease, Seventure notes in a new report.


The report, titled The human microbiome: A new protagonist in managing human health, which is available on request from Seventure, noted that while experts are divided when choosing the most promising drug modality in microbiome treatment in gut conditions, consensus is that there are numerous paths that reveal potential options.


“The spectrum reaches from ‘bugs as drugs’, where the gut microbiome is supplemented with living microbes, all the way to more classical small-molecule drug candidates,” the report authors noted. Probiotics and nutritional solutions have the majority market share when it comes to current microbiome products, while drugs and others account for less than a quarter.


“Over the course of the next decade, this market will gradually be overtaken by next generation probiotics, medical foods and drugs such as live biotherapeutic products, small-molecule compounds and biologics targeting the microbiome-host interaction,” Seventure highlighted.


Near-term challenges for microbiome therapy developers will be the transfer of scientific know-how of the gut microbiome into reliable and efficacious treatments for specific indications. Looking further ahead, regulatory pathways may prove tricky for microbiome products until a rationale for this novel technology is established in the pharmaceutical arena. Microbiome technology is already used in the cosmetic and nutrition sectors.


“As the nutrition and pharma industries are interfacing with regards to the gut microbiome, this could also lead to a more holistic approach to health, where simple diagnostic tools are used as a guide to combine prevention, nutrition and therapy to lead patients and the general population to better health outcomes,” the report notes.


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