San Diego Business Journal

A crop of companies take a person’s fecal sample and profile the microbiome, living microorganisms in the digestive system that are getting increased attention.

Sun Genomics does this its own way — and goes further. The company analyzes a sample using DNA sequencing, and based on the results, develops probiotics that claim to be tailored to that person’s gut.

Earlier this year, the San Diego-based company closed a $3.1 million seed round. Recently, Sun Genomics launched its service.

An Actionable Solution

“We complete the loop there by finding the actionable solution and actually manufacture custom-made, precision probiotics that are based off of that gut health information,” said Sunny Jain, co-founder and CEO of Sun Genomics, in an interview with the San Diego Business Journal.

The process — from ordering a stool-collection kit online to delivery of a 90-day supply of probiotics — takes six weeks and costs $300. The cycle can be repeated as many times as a customer wants.

“You can retest, so every three months you can actually measure how your gut health is improving over time. So this feedback loop will enable you to actually manage your gut health,” Jain said.

Customizing the Solution

The company says over-the-counter probiotics come in only a few formulations, which don’t do justice to the complexity of the microbiome. An unhealthy microbiome has been linked to mood disorders and disease — hence the emergence in recent years of gut health.

By going the custom route, Sun Genomics says it can make a measurable impact on health.

The San Diego Business Journal reached out to three researchers for their take on company’s science. None were familiar with Sun Genomics.

“What’s on their website doesn’t allow me to evaluate the technical merits of their claims,” said in an email Rob Knight, a microbiome researcher at UC San Diego.

To bolster its credibility, Sun Genomics notes its work with genomics titan Illumina to hone a sequencing method and interpret data. Jain is a former Illumina employee himself, having been a lab manager and technical supervisor.

Sun Genomics hasn’t put its process through clinical trials. But Jain said clinical literature supports most of its probiotic strains.

“There has been a wealth of information over the last two decades in specific probiotic strains,” he said. “What’s unique that we’re doing is we’re not making a one-set formula that locks you into a particular combination and a particular benefit. We can put together combinations to give you multiple types of benefits that are specific to you.”

Jain said a person might seek reduced bloating or greater energy, as two examples.

Important for All Ages

Gut health, he said, is important for all ages. He added his 2-year-old soon who had high levels of an inflammatory microbe associated with a developmental disorder benefited from custom probiotics.

“Having these gut health issues isn’t related to you being a baby boomer, a Gen-Xer, a millennial or an infant.”

The company says custom probiotics can be obtained at advanced medical facilities, but at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, while taking eight months or more.