Earlier this year, Unilever Ventures took a stake in a small London-based microbiome start-up called Gallinee: a sign that investments in microbiome start-ups are rising, helping create a market for probiotic supplements and products that eliminate the need for soap. These hope to prevent allergies, acne, depression, obesity, autism, and cancer.
The “microbiome” group includes fungi, viruses, and bacteria, some of which help produce vitamins, hormones, and other chemicals vital to our immune system, metabolism, and mood.
AOBiome, a biotech company, secured a $30 million investment in 2017, and has attracted the attention of companies such as Unilever and Clorox, known for bacteria-killing products. The ammonia-oxidizing bacteria known as AOB is becoming increasingly popular in skin products.
The research into the human microbiome has found that some bacteria are vital to a healthy mind and body.
The overuse of disinfectants and lack of contact with environmental microbes that are carried by wildlife have altered the microbiomes that we carry. Furthermore, the rise in cesarean births does not immerse babies invaluable bacteria found in the birth canal.
These findings have encouraged a number of startups that promote sales of vital bacteria to prevent people from “cleaning themselves sick”.