Business owner First -backed Juno Bio has released a home test kit for females wishing to get a better understanding of their vaginal microbiome while likewise contributing data to further research into females’s health.

The vaginal microbiome refers to the community of microbes and bacteria that naturally live in the vagina. Variances in the vaginal microbiome are thought to have implications for women’s health conditions– such as persistent bacterial-vaginosis or a higher threat of contracting an STI, and even preterm birth and infertility. A historical lack of research study into women’s health problems indicates there’s still a long way to go to totally understand what’s going on. (Or undoubtedly how to step in to remedy an unhealthy imbalance.)

That’s where Juno Bio wants to can be found in.

Last year the 2018-founded U.K. startup ran a study in the U.S. that collected samples from more than 1,000 females to build up a repository of data on the vaginal microbiome. That initial information set underpins the industrial Vaginal Microbiome Test package it’s launching today– at an expense of $149 (that includes totally free shipping).

Ladies who pay to be screened will receive a test set in the post. They then perform a sample gathering treatment in your home, passing a Q-tip-like swab across the walls of their vagina for around 20 seconds and sealing the sample in the tube supplied (with stabilizing representatives) to return it by post to Juno Bio for analysis.

When the sample has actually been processed the user will be welcomed to log in online and see her outcomes, with the alternative to schedule an one-on-one call with a Juno Bio “vaginal coach” to discuss the information.

It deserves emphasizing that the startup is taking care to caveat what kind of service it’s offering.

A disclaimer on its website states the tests are “presently exclusively meant to be used for wellness purposes”– and it even more includes: “The tests we provide are not intended to detect or deal with disease, or to substitute for a doctor’s consultation.”

Juno Bio verifies the test is purely a commercial offer in the meantime– although it says it’s working on “a controlled version” so it will be able to inform scientific decision making in this area in the future, starting with the U.S., which is its preliminary market focus (though test sets are also available in the U.K.).

“For sure we’re not replacing a doctor here,” says CEO and co-founder Hana Janebdar, in a call with TechCrunch. “There’s actually 2 pails of ladies, if you like, that tend to join the Juno Research study or pre-order a test. And the first female is somebody who wishes to be extremely proactive about her general health and needs to know more about her body– and this is one of the best manner ins which you can discover your microorganisms and what that means for your vaginal wellness and your pH etc.

“The other females are women who may have had recurrent bacterial vaginosis or frequent infections and need to know more about what it is that’s causing it possibly– therefore she desires a detailed photo of her vaginal microbiome. Since if you go and attempt and determine, today, what is triggering your bacterial vaginosis utilizing existing approaches of diagnosis they’re not constantly the most helpful. So while that should constantly be the very first port of call, and ladies should constantly go to their physician when they believe they have a concern, this is an incredibly crucial resource when it concerns wellness for a lot of ladies.”

“There are 10% of females in America, for instance, who have recurrent bacterial vaginosis– which is simply one condition of the vaginal microbiome. And it is among the highest persistent rates in medication,” she adds. “And partially due to the fact that the diagnostics are awful in this area.”

Another of the start-up’s financiers is life sciences huge Illumina, which is providing the DNA sequencing innovation it’s utilizing to evaluate the samples, per Janebdar.

“This is the first extensive vaginal microbiome test package that’s readily available that’s next-generation sequencing-based,” she says of the test set. “Certainly vaginal screening has actually existed for a while however no one has actually truly utilized next-generation sequencing– which is the innovation that allows a really comprehensive picture of what all the microorganisms that are in the vaginal area are. And that’s what’s required to A) unravel the vaginal microbiome and its influence on ladies’s lives and fertility and health, and then B) to offer women actually the full image of what those microorganisms are.”

“The conditions that have actually been associated with the vaginal microbiome– like BV, or frequent yeast infections or even the downstream conditions like pelvic inflammatory illness– they have actually traditionally been improperly defined. So the medical diagnosis that have existed to date have actually been [ poor at figuring out] when and what ladies have these conditions and therefore what the very best treatments need to be,” she includes.

Janebdar states the dominating clinical understanding has been that a Lactobacillus dominant vaginal microbiome is healthy– however more recent research studies suggest a more nuanced understanding is required.

“What’s become clear in the literature is that maybe that’s not constantly the case. And likewise the kind of Lactobacilli is important. And also there’s truly essential distinctions in between the vaginal microbiomes and what healthy may look like for Caucasian ladies versus African American females, for instance,” she notes.

Her background includes a degree in biology and a masters in biochemical engineering– including specific deal with microbiome science. It was via her experience of the research study field that she says she understood there was a substantial space in women’s health research study.

Juno Bio CEO and co-founder, Hana Janebdar(Image credit: Juno Bio )”What actually stunned me was that while there was this surge of research study and work and commercialization of the gut microbiome and the soil microbiome and every microbiome under the earth that you could think of, the vaginal microbiome had actually been fairly ignored,” she says, returning to 2017-18 and her inspiration for the start-up.

“It really surprised me because of all the microbiomes the vaginal microbiome was the most readily available, the most easily associated with the conditions that could improve females’s lives and there were many women that have these conditions– it was truly a sense of hang on, what is going on? And why is this so incredibly disregarded?” she includes. “This requires to be repaired.

“As an Afghan woman– women’s rights and the reality that ladies are ignored, and medical health research study has actually been sidelined when it comes to ladies– it’s a very core part of my real experience also.”

Juno Bio’s supreme goal is to gather enough data and understanding to be able to use “microbial interventions” that can be utilized to correct bothersome imbalances, per Janebdar.

“Among the saddest things … is the truth that microbial interventions could work however having it in this wishy-washy, probiotic, kombucha land has actually suggested that people haven’t totally realized its real potential– and it’s really amazing that in the gut microbiome space, which is analogous to us, initially the very first time this year you’re seeing sort of phase 3 authorized microbial interventions for the gut. So I see the vaginal area as analogous to that. And this is the sort of things that the Juno data-sets will unlock.”

Those paying out to contribute their vaginal microbiome data to Juno Bio’s repository are guaranteed it will be “anonymized”– though clearly links will be retained to some individual data points, such as age and ethnic background.

The startup’s personal privacy policy can be found here— where it writes: “The details we use in Research study is typically summarised, aggregated, or integrated across a group of subjects to minimize the chance of recognition.”

“In case we need use of individual-level Personally Identifiable Details in Research or for other functions, we will connect to you and obtain particular authorizations suitable to such other use,” it includes.

Juno Bio is being recommended by Dr Gregory Dollar, Ph.D., who was the principal detective on the Vaginal Human Microbiome Job (VaHMP) and the Multi Omic Microbiome Study Pregnancy Initiative (MOMS PI)– 2 studies that were part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health Human Microbiome Project.

Commenting in a declaration about the launch of the test kit, Dollar stated: “While previous studies have actually worked to characterize the vaginal microbiome, these research studies have often been restricted in population size, utilize restricted gene sequences and lack metadata. As a result, present research studies now lack information and a thorough pressure bank of vaginally associated microbes. Having dedicated much of my career to looking into microbiomes of the female reproductive tract, I am confident that the Vaginal Microbiome Test will produce among the wealthiest research study repositories of data for future research into vaginal health and related issues. Not just that, however it will help alter the preconception around vaginal wellness for the much better.”

Article curated by RJ Shara from Source. RJ Shara is a Bay Area Radio Host (Radio Jockey) who talks about the startup ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investments, policies and more on her show The Silicon Dreams. The show streams on Radio Zindagi 1170AM on Mondays from 3.30 PM to 4 PM.