Microbiome Insights’ Year in Review: 2017 by the numbers

This year, 2017, will go down in Microbiome Insights history as the year the company hit its stride and established itself as a leader in the microbiome testing field. The challenging work our team has been doing since we were founded in 2015 clearly paid off—as evidenced by our expanding client list, our strong financial position, and our team’s awards and recognitions.

In the past twelve months we have had to more than double the size of our Vancouver-based team, hiring some of the best technicians, scientists, and bioinformaticians to meet the needs of our clients.


Here are some highlights of our company’s 2017, by the numbers:


Place out of 150+ companies in the 17th annual BCIC-New Ventures Competition, the largest and longest-running competition for tech companies in BC. The judges, who award $300,000 in cash and prizes to early-stage start-up companies, honoured Microbiome Insights with second place overall and with the Center for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) Life Sciences prize.



Number of conferences Microbiome Insights attended as exhibitors or sponsors. Our team enjoyed meeting new and existing clients at important academic and industry conferences in all corners of North America—from ASM Microbe 2017 in New Orleans to the Microbiome R&D and Business Collaboration Forum in San Diego. We also trailblazed as one of the first microbiome-centered companies to attend two genomics events: ASHG 2017 in Orlando and the 3rd annual Understand your Genome conference in Boston.



British Columbia (BC) life sciences companies (including Microbiome Insights) on the ‘Ready to Rocket’ 2017 Life Science Emerging Rocket Lista business recognition program that profiles technology companies in BC with the greatest potential for revenue growth. These “Emerging Rocket” companies are recognized as having a clear business model and go-to-market strategy that will prove attractive to investors.



Number of microbiome studies our team supported this year—across a broad range of human, animal, agricultural, and environmental applications. We are very proud that many of these were repeat clients.



Number of dollars invested in our company by Genome BC, following successful equity financing. In combination with funds from the company’s recent round of equity funding, this will help build out our new CLIA-certified lab facility, grow our team and capabilities, and develop and launch new services and tests in 2018.


Here are some of the technical insights from our team this year:

  • The staying power of amplicon-based analyses: For studies whose primary objective is to get a comprehensive picture of the bacteria in an environment, or to build models of disease classification (for many diseases) data derived from 16S genes is as good as it gets
  • The power of multi-omics integration: Although it still poses technical challenges, integration of multiomics datasets can reveal things far beyond what each technology can show separately

And finally, here are our team’s picks for the hot areas to watch in microbiome science in the coming year:

  • The contribution of microbes to “inflammaging”—the progressive increase in pro-inflammatory status that occurs with age
  • Progress toward microbiome therapies that modulate the brain through the gut-brain axis
  • Larger and longer studies on the skin microbiome, looking at lifestyle factors and making more definitive associations between skin microbes (composition and function) and healthy skin
  • Tracking the presence of viruses in the gut microbiome and gaining insights about health implications

A very happy 2018, from our team to you!



How close are microbiome-modulating therapies that target the brain? A quick overview of the evidence

Debate exists about how soon knowledge about the gut-brain axis will bear fruit. Yet the microbiome-gut-brain axis is a hot topic of scientific investigation and several companies around the globe are actively pursuing gut microbiome therapies that focus on brain-related conditions.

Here’s a quick overview from our lab scientists on various areas of brain health and the evidence linking each one to the gut microbiota.

General early life neurodevelopment

Dozens of human studies and mechanistic animal studies support the relevance of gut microbiota to normal behaviour and neurodevelopment; however, these studies are not always specific to neurological development, and the observed effects could be confounded by many other factors that affect the early life microbiome.

Autism spectrum disorders

Although there are known genetic contributors to autism spectrum disorders, both human and animal studies show a connection between gut microbiota and both gastrointestinal symptoms and social deficits in these individuals.

Anorexia nervosa

A moderate level of evidence links anorexia with gut microbiota; no mechanistic studies have been completed to date.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

A low level of evidence implicates gut microbiota in ADHD; this disorder may also be linked to diet, but much more research needs to be undertaken.

Multiple sclerosis

A growing number of human studies as well as mechanistic animal studies have found the gut microbiota has immunomodulatory effects that may affect multiple sclerosis (MS) disease progression. Transfer of the microbiota from a human with MS to a mouse increases MS-like symptoms.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Moderate evidence and one human study connects the gut microbiota with PTSD; further research may explore the mechanistic role of chronic inflammation as well as cortisol and dopamine regulation.


A high level of evidence links gut microbiota with depressive symptoms; probiotics may improve depression in both humans and animals.


While the studies on anxiety overlap with those on depression, some reports in both animals and humans show potential of microbiota modulation — for example, through probiotics — for improving symptoms of anxiety.


Extreme fatigue may also be linked with the gut microbiota, although diet appears to be a major confounding factor and more research is required.

Parkinson’s disease

Many studies in humans link Parkinson’s disease (PD) with the gut, but chronic constipation in those with PD is a possible confounding factor. Mechanistic evidence to back these findings is just beginning to emerge.

Alzheimer’s disease

Emerging evidence shows the Alzheimer’s-gut connection: in mice, Alzheimer’s-like symptoms are altered by microbiome manipulation.

A round table discussion at the Global Engage Microbiome R&D and Business Collaboration Forum on Thursday, November 2nd, led by CEO Malcolm Kendall, will explore what we know about the gut-brain axis and how soon it could yield breakthrough therapies.

microbiome insights CEO

CEO Malcolm Kendall

About the company

Microbiome Insights provides state-of-the art microbiome analysis and bioinformatics.

Our end-to-end service starts with experimental design and sample collection and extends to data analysis and bioinformatics interpretation.

Microbiome Insights is focused on providing our clients with a deeper understanding of functions and interactions of microbial communities across a range of human, animal, agricultural, and environmental research applications. Our team of experts and testing methods combine to provide fast, dependable, cost-effective results with highly comprehensive, publication quality bioinformatics. To learn more, see here.