“Qiagen Joins French Biotech to Build the Next Generation of Microbiome Technology”

Our French biotech of the week, Biomillenia, is developing a lab-on-a-chip that can screen millions of strains of bacteria in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional methods. This technology can identify previously unculturable strains for use in agriculture, animal health, or microbiome-based therapies.

Mission: To use lab-on-a-chip technology to culture and screen up to 30 million strains of microbes in one day. Eventually, the company hopes to find useful bacterial strains that could form treatments for skin, digestive and immune conditions.

Bacteria come in many shapes and sizes, forming vast ecosystems across the planet. There is lots of untapped potential in these ecosystems, with microbial strains that could be useful for therapies or industrial applications hiding in the masses. The trick is just being able to identify and grow these useful strains.

“The vast majority of microbes living in diverse environments, such as in or on the human body, or in soil or water, cannot be efficiently cultured under laboratory conditions with today’s methods,

Dirk Löffert, the CEO of Biomillenia, told me.

“This is also referred to as the dark matter of the microbiome.”

Biomillenia has designed a lab-on-a-chip that takes single bacteria from different samples, and isolates them in droplets of fluid so tiny that 50 million of them could fit in a single raindrop. The cells then reproduce inside these droplets over a week and then get screened to see if they have desirable genes and characteristics.

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