Phenomix Sciences, an early-stage Mayo Clinic startup, launches with $1 million in seed fund to fight obesity
Phenomix Sciences, an early-stage spinout of the Mayo Clinic startup company focused on personalized treatments for chronic diseases, has secured $1 million in seed round of financing to enable commercialization of a new clinical test for obesity. The test, developed by the Mayo Clinic, analyzes metabolomic and DNA biomarkers to characterize obesity and guide more effective weight loss treatments.
Founded in 2017 by two leading, NIH-funded Mayo Clinic gastroenterologists, Dr. Andres Acosta and Dr. Michael Camilleri, The Rochester, New York-based Phenomix Sciences is a Mayo Clinic startup venture providing healthcare solutions to enable personalized management of chronic diseases with better efficacy, fewer side effects, and lower costs. The company says that several studies using this novel approach have been published and more studies are ongoing to further strengthen the clinical utility and weight loss outcomes data. Phenomix expects commercial availability of the physician-ordered test in Q2 of 2019.
According to the information provided on its site, Phenomix Sciences’ approach is based on a phenotype-driven multi-level “omics” platform supported with deep learning technology to identify chronic disease sub-types in order to individualize therapy selection and enhance treatment outcomes. Their first product tackles obesity with a novel blood-based test that accurately predicts the subtype of obesity with a sensitivity and specificity >90%. This innovative test guides the health care provider to select the right intervention for each patient to maximize weight loss. In two randomized trials performed within a multidisciplinary weight management clinic, the Phenomix approach demonstrated a doubling of total body weight loss and reduction in side effects to obesity pharmacotherapy. This test will be the first of its kind offered to clinicians and patients to predict weight loss and improve outcome in obesity.
“We intend to raise approximately one million in financing through a convertible note to acquire key equipment for our CLIA laboratory and to build out our core team,” says Ross Higgins, chief operating officer at Phenomix. The seed round will be open to the public through WeFunder, an investment crowdfunding platform. Such platforms have historically been more oriented towards consumer-facing product offerings, however, more and more clinical and biotechnology startups have been using these platforms successfully to raise capital. “Given the rate of obesity in the U.S. is over 40%, we believe our mission will resonate among the general public,” added Higgins.
Obesity sub-typing using traditional methods involves bringing the patient into a research center like Mayo Clinic for several days of close monitoring and invasive tests. This isn’t practical for most patients leading to less personalized treatments rather than tailoring the treatment based on the patient’s specific obesity sub-type.
“Now we have a simple blood test that can identify the obesity sub-type or phenotype with over a 90% accuracy,” says Dr. Andres Acosta, Assistant Professor at Mayo Clinic and Founder of Phenomix. “The information may be useful to guide therapy and improve the response rate of commonly prescribed weight loss treatments.”