Evolve BioSystems, a leading infant gut microbiome company, has announced the completion of a $40 million Series C funding round co-led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Horizons Ventures, the venture division of the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
The funds will be used to expand the availability of Evolve's flagship infant probiotic product, Evivo, in the United States and globally. Evivo is an activated form of the bacteria Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis EVC001), which has been clinically proven to restore beneficial bacteria to the infant gut microbiome and reduce potentially pathogenic bacteria by 80 percent. The new financing also will support the company's efforts to develop new products for different age segments and accelerate efforts to bring to market a first-of-its-kind microbiome diagnostic test.
Under the agreement, Evolve and the Gates Foundation will expand a partnership to study how Evivo can help infants suffering from severe acute malnutrition — which affects sixteen million children worldwide — through the restoration of the gut microbiome. The foundation will work with Evolve to help develop and evaluate Evivo and determine the role of B. infantis — in combination with breastfeeding — in supporting the healthy growth and development of infants in developing countries.
"Promoting a healthy microbiome is a key element of addressing infant and neonatal health in regions that face a high burden of enteric infections and malnutrition," said Anita Zaidi, director of the Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases Program at the Gates Foundation. "We are excited by the potential of Evolve's activated strain of B. infantis to address these challenges and create a healthy infant microbiome for the world's most vulnerable children."
(Photo credit: Evolve BioSystems)