AnimalBiome fetches $8.6 million investment led by Cargill

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images /  FatCamera
Getty Images / FatCamera

Related tags animalbiome pet health Gut microbiome

The biotechnology startup recently closed its Series A funding round with $8.6 million investments, led by Cargill. Other investors include SOSV (IndieBio), Moai Capital, Digitalis Ventures, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures.

AnimalBiome uses microbiome research and products to help pet parents regain control of their pets' chronic GI issues by using advanced genomic sequencing and data analytics. When we spoke with the company in January​, they had sequenced just over 10,000 samples. Today, the California start-up has 25,000 cat and dog fecal samples, boasting the largest pet microbiome dataset in the world.

The database will help drive diagnosis and treatment of allergy and gastrointestinal issues. To accelerate insight and new product development, Cargill recently announced an investment in AnimalBiome.

“Digestive health is a theme of rising importance in human and animal health and wellness. In animals, healthy gut bacteria is linked to higher levels of immune response and lower levels of stress and disease, often translating into improved performance. AnimalBiome brings an immense amount of data that supports Cargill’s internal research and development rigor and goal of creating best-in-class products that positively impact the microbiome. AnimalBiome’s sophisticated microsequencing database will serve as our future microbiome insights platform, dramatically improving our ability to do new product development and product research,”​ said Jamie Dolynchuk, vice president of Cargill’s health technologies (CHT) business.

AnimalBiome currently offers in-home microbiome tests, personalized recommendations for diet and supplements, and next generation probiotics to restore key groups of bacteria lost as a result of antibiotic exposure.

New product growth 

Dolynchuk said that they hope to add to the list of offerings as Cargill grows in the category, with the partnership acting as an innovation engine that drives new product growth and differentiation in the health space.

As part of Cargill’s investment in AnimalBiome, it will have access to their robust microbiome database, which gives insights into what and how to modulate the microbiome and proprietary information to build new technology and expedite innovation processes for new product development. Dolynchuk said an added bonus is AnimalBiome’s access to pet parents, which allows both AnimalBiome and Cargill to complete in-home trials economically and expeditiously.

“When we started AnimalBiome [in 2016], our aim was to create evidence-based supplements to improve the health of cats and dogs, starting with chronic digestive and skin conditions. Our partnership with Cargill Health Technologies is helping us accelerate our R&D and make these products available to companion animals facing such heartbreaking conditions sooner,”​ said Holly Ganz, PhD, AnimalBiome co-founder and chief science officer. “We are developing microbial cocktails to support digestive health, immune function, and skin health in companion animals. Building this product discovery platform will allow us to accelerate the development of new cocktails for a whole suite of health conditions that are mediated by the gut microbiome.”

Ganz explained that these microbial cocktails will restore key beneficial microbes to sick pets, which in many cases alleviates signs of illness associated with some chronic health conditions. After in vitro and safety testing is completed, AnimalBiome designs, recruits, and coordinates in-home studies to test the efficacy of these new products with pets in homes. Additionally, Ganz is working with veterinarians at top veterinary schools to conduct clinical trials, with two currently in progress.

Cargill’s digestive health history

Cargill’s foray into the digestive and immune health space began in 2017 with its acquisition of Diamond V, a leading animal health company, and investment in Delacon, a pioneer in phytogenics health solutions. Looking forward, the company said it sees health ingredients as one of the fastest growing segments in nutrition and is concentrated on growth opportunities for both animal and human application.

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