Atmo Biosciences lands US$7M for gas-sensing ingestible capsules
24 Sep 2021 --- Atmo Biosciences has raised AU$9.6 million (US$7.0 million) to accelerate product development of its gas-sensing capsule. The device detects clinically important gaseous biomarkers produced by the gut microbiome as it travels through a person’s gastrointestinal system and transmits the data to the cloud for analysis.
The capital raised in the oversubscribed funding round will also allow Atmo to undertake the clinical studies required to file an initial Food and Drug Administration submission for US regulatory clearance around the use of Atmo’s capsule to assess gut motility and transit time using location signatures based on gas profiles.
“The commercial potential in this area was clearly reflected in the strong interest we received during this capital raise,” says Malcolm Hebblewhite, CEO of Atmo.
Attracting new shareholders
Atmo had to upscale the raise to accommodate two new, significant shareholders. Alium Capital Management is an Australian investment firm. Its Alpha Fund focuses on pre-IPO technology and innovation companies.
Meanwhile, Otsuka Pharmaceutical is a Japanese multinational. “Otsuka brings not just funding, but a global presence through access to its well established and extensive product development resources, its customer focus and distribution networks cutting across pharmaceuticals, consumer products and medical devices.”
“We also had to upscale to accommodate the strong demand we had from our existing and a number of new, sophisticated investors,” Hebblewhite adds.
The new funding will also help Atmo continue clinical studies directed toward expanding into a major new commercial opportunity for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
The gastrointestinal disorder is believed to affect up to 5 to 15% of the population. However, the most commonly used diagnostic test for it, the hydrogen breath test, is widely recognized as being unreliable.
More accurate methods, such as sample collection and cultivation, are highly invasive, expensive and face several procedural challenges, according to Atmo.
In contrast, the company’s capsule has the potential to directly collect functional data from within the small intestine that could assist with the evaluation and management of SIBO.
Challenges assessing gut health
With one in five people suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder in their lifetime, there has been an explosion of interest and understanding about the impact of the microbiome on many aspects of a person’s health, argues Hebblewhite.
“However, one of the big challenges is that the gut is very long, with much of it inaccessible, and it is hard to know what is going on in there,” he points out. Indeed, a research analysis recently concluded that science is not yet developed enough to personalize nutrition based on gut microbiome testing.
“Many microbiome companies are profiling a person’s microbiome, effectively looking at what microbiota are present. Atmo is taking a slightly different approach by using the gas profiles throughout the gut to look at how those microbiota are functioning.”
Jason Rich, partner at Alium Capital, adds that gut health is increasingly being recognized for its importance to overall health and wellness, and a key part of that is understanding microbiome function.
In this space, Innova Market Insights reports that 30% of global consumers see improving gut health as among the most desirable health and wellness functions that a food or beverage might offer.
“We see huge commercial potential in Atmo’s ability to provide insights into the health or dysfunction of a person’s gastrointestinal system and gut microbiome,” adds Rich.
Hebblewhite previously told NutritionInsight that Atmo’s technology holds appeal for pharmacological interventions, as well as for more mainstream consumer health applications.
In 2019, Atmo’s gas-sensing capsule was used to examine the efficacy of Seed Health’s daily symbiotic supplement.
Edited by Katherine Durrell
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