Nimble Science, co-founded by Sabina Bruehlmann, PhD, and Joseph Wang, PhD, has developed a technology called the SIMBA GI Health Platform, which is designed to access multi-omic data of the gut. The platform is powered by the company’s innovative SIMBA capsule, a small ingestible capsule that can autonomously collect and preserve an uncontaminated small intestine fluid biopsy.
We caught up with Drs Bruehlmann and Wang to find out more:
NutraIngredients-USA (NIU): What was the driving force behind founding Nimble Science?
Sabina Bruehlmann (SB): The SIMBA capsule was invented by Nimble co-founder Dr. Joseph Wang who developed the capsule at the request of his father, a GI doctor in China who was frustrated with the lack of options to truly assess the state of small intestine of his patients. Today, Nimble is driven by the vast potential of the gut microbiome and the incredulity that we are being held back by our lack of access to this intensely bioactive organ of the body.
NIU: There are already some ingestible capsule technology companies out there, so how is Nimble Science different?
Joseph Wang (JW): The literature is full of capsule concepts devised to transit the GI tract and collect fluid, with some of the earliest dating back to the early 1900s. Like many of these, a pillar of our approach has been to ensure that the capsule is low cost and comparable to other medical disposables. This is a necessity, because the answers we need to drive true innovation in microbiome will require a lot of data not a little bit of data.
However, low cost doesn’t mean low quality: Our SIMBA Capsule is the first to have demonstrated multi-omic comparison to clinical endoscopy samples - and the reason for our success is the emphasis we have placed in every aspect of our design on sample quality, from the contaminant free manufacturing, anaerobic sealing, integrated preservant that ensures sample quality and allows for easy at home use and mail return.
NIU: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered over the first years of the business?
JW: While it is commonly known and accepted that the in situ microbiome is clearly distinct from fecal, the overreliance of stool as a full and complete proxy for the gut microbiome left the industry unprepared for the sudden opportunity presented by easy access to the small intestine. The technology was asking more questions than it answered. In our early days we worked closely with a few industry leaders, like Lallemand Health Solutions, to put the capsule to work and demonstrate the value that it can bring.
Now, we are delighted to observe a shift in this trend. Recent publications are highlighting the urgency in including this novel data, both for spatial and temporal heterogeneity. This revelation is occurring simultaneously with the mounting pressure that microbiome, probiotic, and functional food industries are under to furnish better evidence using innovative types of samples and data.
NIU: How would you describe how your approach or ethos is treading a path or direction that no other firm has explored before?
JW: At the outset, we realized that relying solely on delivering capsules to our customers would not provide the comprehensive solution that is needed. Therefore, from the start we embraced a novel data-driven strategy that centers on collaboratively developing an extensive understanding of the small intestine in health and disease. There is much work to do to come up to where we are with our understanding and comfort with stool.
We recognize that our customers rely on us for both the access, and a means to understand and drive solutions from the novel data that is collected. We believe that our approach has the potential to make a significant impact on a broad range of indications and applications.
NIU: In the probiotic, prebiotic and microbiome space, what would you say is the next research area that the industry needs to keep its eye on?
SB: We have all seen the impact of quality evidence on probiotic and prebiotic adoption, both by clinicians and consumers. The recent FDA approvals for Seres and Rebiotix have only contributed to the hope that we all place in the microbiome.
However, the limitations with fecal sampling are becoming clearer and more research is needed to show real-time metabolic and molecular interactions between the host, diet, and microbiota to understand the underlying mechanisms by which these supplements affect the gut microbiome and host physiology in these hard-to-access regions. Such studies will provide valuable insights into the potential clinical applications of probiotic and prebiotic supplements for various diseases.
NIU: What is the significance for Nimble Science of being named one of our 2023 Probiota Pioneers, and how do you think it helps your profile in such an innovative, ever-changing industry?
SB: Nimble is ready to partner to drive innovation in this space. Our capsule technology is clinically validated and is developed and manufactured under our ISO13485:2016 certification. Nimble has a fully developed clinical operations team to work with our customers to serve their needs- either in delivering customized datasets or working to integrate the capsules as a service within their planned clinical studies.
Being named one of the 2023 Probiota Pioneers is a unique opportunity for us to showcase our innovative solutions to a wider range of stakeholders, including potential partners, investors, and customers.
Moreover, as we continue to prepare for the launch of our database, being named a Probiota Pioneer will allow us to engage with a broader audience from this industry and better understand their evolving needs. By actively collaborating with our clients, we can leverage their insights and expertise to take our multi-omic data and knowledge to the next level, driving continued innovation in the field.
Probiota Americas 2023
The event takes place June 14-16, 2023, at the Westin Chicago River North in Chicago. The three-day program will explore the state of the market, with insight from CEOs and from SPINS, postbiotics, how plant breeding can impact the human gut microbiome, the regulatory landscapes for microbiome modulators in the US and Canada, the opportunity with pets, disruptive technologies like CRISPR, A.I., and -omics, microbiome modulation to support women’s health, and LBPs in the USA.
Experts from NOW Health Group, Nouri, Postbiotics+, Microba, the University of Nebraska, the US Food & Drug Administration, Health Canada, Amin Talati Wasserman, the International Probiotics Association, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, North Carolina State University, Synbiotic Health, Zbiotics, Morinaga, Kaneka, IFF, Fonterra, the National Animal Supplement Council, AnimalBiome, Persephone Pharma, ExeGi Pharma, University of São Paulo Medical School, and more.
Probiota 2023 in Barcelona was sold-out, so don’t wait to reserve your spot for the leading annual event for the prebiotic, probiotic and the microbiota focused food and pharma industries across the Americas. Register today for Probiota Americas.