Microbiome company BIOHM Health is launching a suite of services for microbiome innovators looking to optimize gut health. The company boasts state-of-the-art laboratories and one of the largest microbiome datasets in the world that combines bacterial and fungal sequencing. BIOHM offers turnkey partnership opportunities in ingredient formulation, bioinformatics, testing, and clinical trial support.
“Ingredient and product innovation has not utilized the power of microbiome data, even as the tie between the microbiome and human health becomes increasingly clear,” said Afif Ghannoum, CEO, BIOHM. “At BIOHM, we felt a responsibility to create access to the most current, comprehensive, and clinically studied microbiome data available. We are excited to work with partners who are truly invested in moving the needle on gut health and overall wellness.”
Afif, a biotechnology attorney by training, co-founded BIOHM with his father, Mahmoud Ghannoum, PhD, a global leader in medical mycology and tenured professor and director of the Center for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Medical Center. Ghannoum coined the term mycobiome as his area of concentration which involves fungi–not bacteria–in the gut.
Mahmoud said that today it is well known that big data–in most industries–can help find more accurate solutions more quickly. The same can be said about collecting data on the microbiome.
“The first question we must ask ourselves is what does a healthy microbiome look like? This is a very debatable subject, and no one has a definitive answer, but we are close. That is because of the sheer number of samples we have assessed - and the quality of the metadata we have extrapolated.
"When the NIH set out to understand what a healthy microbiome looked like, they had 250 participants. Our dataset has identified thousands of healthy microbiome participants.
"With the thousands of submitted stool samples we analyzed, not only did we assess the organisms and species of bacteria and fungi we also captured information about the participant's health, from diet to health to the number of hours they sleep each night. We also assessed metadata–like the presence of any disease, conditions or use of antibiotics. So, when we provide personalized (and confidential) assessments, we are comparing these samples against the healthy/optimized microbiome that was established by our 'healthy’ cohort.”
Services range from turnkey ingredients and formulations to cohort selection and postbiotic development. The company is currently working with global industry leaders to create next gen products that combine bacterial and fungal sequencing with over 50 metadata points.
The BIOHM team also created a probiotic called BIOHM FX, which has been clinically shown to break down digestive biofilms and reduce: bloating, mild constipation, abdominal discomfort, flatulence and improve gut function ratings. Strains in the probiotic include:
- B. breve - A beneficial bacteria in a healthy human gut microbiome that produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that support mucosal health and gut balance.
- S. boulardii - A beneficial species of fungi (yeast) shown to help maintain fungal balance and an overall healthy microbiome.
- L. acidophilus - A type of bacteria found in a healthy gut microbiome that produces lactic acid to help keep the gut pH acidic and fight pathogenic growth.
- L. rhamnosus - A beneficial bacteria in a healthy gut microbiome that helps maintain balance and prevent pathogenic growth.
- Amylase - An enzyme present in saliva to help breakdown starch into sugars and also shown to help disrupt biofilms in the GI tract.
- White-label bioinformatics and testing is available for partners looking for a turnkey test or a customized bioinformatics pipeline. BIOHM experts can create the appropriate models and mechanisms to achieve established goals, and their proprietary ‘plug and play’ software portal can provide customized reporting and science-based health solutions from any 16S, ITS and/or metagenomics raw sequencing dataset.
Finally, after processing tens of thousands of microbiome tests and supporting numerous clinical trials, BIOHM’s science team also provides clinical trial support-from design to implementation and testing-so partners can demonstrate proof of concept and/or efficacy. Their expertise in bacteria and fungi provides a platform to build scientific understanding that informs new product development.
Solving the personalized puzzle
Since launching BIOHM FX, the company has expanded its line of microbiome data-powered products to include more probiotic and prebiotic supplements, as well as a personalized gut test that comes with personalized suggestions to rebalance and diversify user’s microbiome with diet, supplements and lifestyle shifts.
“I believe gut testing will be a significant part of the puzzle of personalized health. The microbiome is the barometer of health, not just gut health but the entire human health system. Knowing you have a balanced microbiome and understanding how an optimized microbiome profile better assists in the prevention of disease, improves health and quality of life,” said Mahmoud.
Fungi's critical role
Mahmoud told NutraIngredients-USA that the light bulb moment in his career was when he started studying the microbiomes of Crohn's disease patients and discovered the critical role of fungi in the gut.
“Until that research - and still today - the sole focus of the microbiome was on the bacterial community. We discovered that not only was fungi a dominating factor in gut health, but that fungi interacted with - and influenced - bacteria in a way that could potentially cause a lot of harm. Fungus is also a bigger microorganism, so while there may be less by sheer number in the gut, our research illustrated how one fungus microorganism could interact with 12 or more bacterial microorganisms,” explained Mahmoud.
"Balance is a key to gut health, but we need to look at balance from the framework of both the fungal and bacterial communities. When we published our first study on fungi's role in the microbiome, we were overwhelmed by the number of people with gut health issues, who intrinsically knew - through their own medical challenges - that fungi was an overlooked element in their assessment and treatment protocols. Anyone who has experienced how gut health or reproductive health has been influenced by antibiotics or certain foods, already is aware of the role of fungi.”
Not your average probiotic company
“We never intended to just be another probiotic company when we started BIOHM five years ago,” said Sam Schatz, President, BIOHM Health. “Dr Mahmoud Ghannoum was generating ground-breaking research that was being circulated through medical journals–yet not connecting on the consumer level or with OTC products. We wanted to fuel the science that serves other microbiome developers and innovators–with the goal to improve personalized health and wellness on a mass scale. With the launch of these services, we can do that.”