In 2012, nearly 1.4 million people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, making it the third most common cancer in the world. Despite being one of the most preventable cancers, with screening programs designed for early detection and polyp removal, far too many do not comply with public health recommendations. There is a desperate need for a simple, non-invasive test that can be used to identify patients who have colon cancer, or are at risk of developing cancer due to pre-cancerous polyps.
Metabiomics, an early-stage diagnostics company, is developing a non-invasive screening test for earlier and more accurate detection of colon polyps and colorectal cancer based on human microbiome analysis. Their stool sampling kits take advantage of how sensitive the microbiome is to change in the presence of adenomas and adenocarcinomas in the GI tract. The key to the startup’s innovation is their patented MultiTag DNA sequencing technology, which combined with computational biology techniques is able to detect how colon polyps and colorectal cancer has disrupted the microbiome.
Current tests to identify colorectal cancer, or pre-cancerous polyps, are far from optimal. Colonoscopy is accurate, but is both invasive and expensive. Fecal occult stool testing is simple, but compliance rates are low and not accurate for pre-cancerous polyps. The new test by Metabiomics could revolutionize the industry, delivering the benefits of low-cost, non-invasiveness and high accuracy of detecting both pre-cancerous polyps and cancer. The test has all the features needed to increase compliance, significantly lower the incidence of one of the most difficult to treat cancers, changing the lives of millions worldwide.
Metabiomics was largely self-financed by its co-founders in the beginning, but has raised over $10 million to develop and market the innovative technology. They are bringing the test to market as a CLIA laboratory-developed test, and use their own CLIA certified laboratory for the clinical validation study and initial market penetration. Late 2015, the company announced the collaboration with UK-based Origin Sciences, and a distribution agreement of their novel OriCol gastrointestinal sampling technology.