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Verb Biotics partners with Israeli firm to speed product development

Verb Biotics teams up with Evogene, leveraging AI to accelerate probiotic development, unlocking genetic pathways for groundbreaking microbial innovation.

Hank Schultz

February 9, 2024

3 Min Read

Microbial ingredients innovator Verb Biotics has announced a new partnership that, according to the company, will further speed its product development cycle. 

This week the Boston-based company announced a collaboration with Evogene Ltd. that reportedly will greatly speed Verb Biotics’ already sprightly pace of ingredient discovery and development to market.  

Using AI to unlock microbial secrets 

Evogene, based in Rehovot, Israel, advertises a so-called Computation Predictive Biology (CPB) platform, which is claimed to incorporate “deep understanding of biology leveraged through the power of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.” 

Using the AI-powered computational technique, the company can unlock new product development avenues in the fields of microbes, small molecules, and genetic elements.  

The specific computation tool being used in the collaboration is branded as MicroBoost AI. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Verb Biotics is privately held while shares of Evogene’s shares are traded on the NASDAQ exchange where it currently trades for 76 cents a share. 

Verb Biotics already has a wealth of information on probiotic strains within its proprietary library. It has used some of this knowledge to produce its first product to market, branded as Keystone Postbiotic. This ingredient combines the metabolites that arise from fermentation using oats as a feedstock along with grapeseed extract to boost the production of healthy bacteria in the human gut. The company is also developing straight probiotic ingredients as well as synbiotics. 

Understanding genetic pathways  

A key goal of the new collaboration is to enable Verb Biotics to better understand how its probiotic bacteria are performing on a gene pathway level, said Noah Zimmerman, the company's chief technical officer.

“This collaboration will allow Verb Biotics to acquire a more in-depth knowledge of the strains in its proprietary library. At the same time, the collaboration will allow Verb Biotics to isolate and commercialize new highly efficient bacterial strains with a much better understanding of the mode of action,” he told Natural Products Insider in an email. 

Zimmerman said with this new, deeper knowledge Verb Biotics can determine if a strain is a candidate for further development and, if so, how best to go about it. 

“Certain bacterial derived metabolites are highly impactful for human health; however, the bacteria that make them may not be readily commercializable, such as obligate anaerobes,” Zimmerman said.  

“By identifying the unknown genetic pathways responsible for metabolite production, Verb Biotics will be able to unlock new potentials for probiotics by either identifying commercial ready strains, or if needed, utilize gene editing technology to provide the important metabolites in a safe and effective way,” he added. 

Zimmerman said the new knowledge will also help Verb Biotics more quickly and reliably match the metabolite profile of probiotic strains to condition-specific applications.  

 

 

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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