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”.
Using the microbiomes that we share our bodies with challenges our current ideas about health. Rather than killing microbes, using your unique set of bacteria could be a more effective way of curing health issues. Could his signify a new medical era?
Many of us are already ingesting bacteria; pro-biotics to promote a healthy gut are hugely popular and fermented foods are a key food staple in many parts of Asia. Therefore, the step towards growing bacteria on the outside of your body may not be so far-fetched. Partnerships between household product companies and microbiome industries imply that we will see bacteria in skin products and medical treatments in the near future.