Viome Closes $86M to Bring Gut Tests to the Masses


The link between the human microbiome and overall health has been an increasingly hot topic for both researchers and founders alike, and Viome Life Sciences just landed $86.5M of Series C funding to be the first company to bring gut tests to the masses.

Viome’s at-home testing kits analyze the microbial composition of stool and saliva samples through RNA sequencing to inform personalized lifestyle recommendations and supplements, which it provides directly to consumers.

  • Using “modern AI and bioinformatics methods,” Viome can reportedly assess the genetic expression of an individual to identify which supplements will have the greatest positive impact on their health – a claim that’s unsurprisingly drawn a bit of pushback.
  • These diagnostics can also screen for certain cancers, and Viome recently received FDA Breakthrough Device Designation “for its ability to detect early-stage cancer in the mouth and throat using saliva with 95% specificity and over 90% sensitivity.”

A major distribution deal with CVS was announced alongside the funding, making Viome’s $149 Gut Intelligence Test the first gut test to be offered at 200 CVS locations and through its website.

  • These tests are provided for “close to cost” to CVS customers, with the true value lying in the data that flows into Viome’s gene expression data pool – apparently the largest of its kind – and the downstream D2C revenue.

Although Viome has a handful of peer-reviewed studies and some heavyweight investors like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, some researchers remain wary of microbiome kit companies due to the lack of evidence-based guidelines for translating the data into clinical practice.

  • One of Viome’s former competitors, uBiome, was indicted for defrauding payors and misleading investors over the effectiveness of its microbiome test, a scandal that cast a lingering Theranos-shaped shadow over the category.

The Takeaway

Viome is walking an interesting line between alternative medicine startup and AI diagnostics trailblazer, but that same intersection also seems like a natural sweet spot for success with consumers. On top of that, the CVS partnership probably gives Viome more exposure than any microbiome company has ever had, and it isn’t too hard to picture that advantage snowballing into a significant chunk of market share.

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