Kiwi Bio aims to free irritable bowel syndrome sufferers from restrictive diets

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one in 20 suffers from sensitive gut diseaseInflammation, a common disorder related to how your bowels work, can cause a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain and difficulty using the bathroom.

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One remedy for gut sensitivity is to avoid certain foods, but many related diets are too restrictive, said Anji Liu, one of the co-founders of the Boston-based biotechnology company. Kiwi Organic, who knows firsthand the difficulties of living with IBS.

Liu told Nerdshala, “I would have a stomach ache after eating and went to the doctor, who referred me to a specialist, which is the typical IBS visit, because no one knows what’s wrong with you. ” “10% to 15% of people suffer from IBS, but only half of those people are officially diagnosed.”

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It also led him to pair with David Hachuel to develop a way to create a painless ritual eating method for the 40 million other Americans suffering from IBS. Kiwi’s first product, FODZYME, came out in May. FODZYME uses patent-pending enzymes to break down common digestive triggers.

And now today, Kiwi Bio announced a $1.5 million seed round from a group of investors including Y Combinator, North South Ventures, Surf Club Ventures, Acacia Venture Capital Partners, Savage Seed (a fund managed by Emily Leprost) and Golden Founders. Jude Gomilla. .

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Liu, who was diagnosed with IBS six years ago, said many people initially try medication but find that there is no way to manage symptoms other than cutting half the foods they usually eat. Not there. The diet, known as the low-FODMAP diet, is what 80% of doctors prescribe. However, “it is extremely difficult to comply, and as a result, there is low compliance,” she said.

For many people, this means avoiding foods like garlic and onions. For Liu, who tried the diet for nearly three years, it sometimes meant missing out on the joys of life and food. With FODZYME, people can sprinkle the powder on foods before eating them, as in the case of the first product, such as garlic, onion, banana and wheat.

Liu explained that he chose the powder form because it integrates more easily with foods versus capsules.

“We learned through clinical testing that capsules were one of the worst ways to deliver enzymes,” Liu said. “Those products almost never make it into the human gut where they interface with real users. So we have a powder that goes straight to food, which we found works much better.”

Kiwi is working on a chewable version as well as a supplement that will counteract the sugar alcohols. He added that all of the ingredients in FODZYME are recognized as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration.

One of the company’s consultants, Thomas Wallach, a pediatrician at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, said via email that he believes Kiwi’s work is different from other companies in the area of ​​digestive health that are unproven. concepts and rely on the fact that Placebo effect strong enough in IBS and intestinal discomfort.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, to be honest, as if it’s a safe product and people feel better, I’m so happy,” he said. “However, kiwi is really aimed at presenting a true therapeutic agent that has potential applications in a range of conditions from IBS to dysmotility to short gut. This is a novel and exciting idea, and there is a need to help investigate this.” I’m really excited for that.”

Wallach specializes clinically in disorders of abdominal pain, including irritable bowel syndrome, as well as being a translational researcher focused on intestinal epithelial homeostasis. He explained that gas makes stretching worse, and that our intestinal microbiota eats up FODMAPs and many worms turn them into gas. The low-FODMAP diet aims to reduce gas, and says it has a very good success rate, especially in people who also have hypermobile joints or dysautonomia.

In addition to what Liu mentioned about the low-FODMAP diet being restrictive, Wallach said that diets that don’t contain a lot of fiber can result in negative changes in one’s microbiome. Kiwi is “lactaid for fiber,” which allows people with IBS to eat more freely with some preparation, he said.

“After all, fiber is good for you, and removing it from the diet is not sustainable,” Wallach said. “Kiwi’s enzyme package pre-digests FODMAPs, ideally minimizing the amount that ends up in the colon while avoiding nutrient limitations or removing all fiber. I’m using plans for both in vitro model systems testing. With has been greatly influenced by their focus on empirical validation, and as it is generally regarded as a safe substance, the rapid movement into clinical trials.

Meanwhile, it has been a busy summer for the Kiwis. Liu and Hachuel were part of Y Combinator’s summer cohort and noticed that Kiwi’s inventory has already sold out twice this summer. A bottle of FODZYME sells for $39 and can be purchased in 30-day or 60-day supplies. The company now serves over 600 customers and is growing at a weekly rate of 18%.

The company is busy in strengthening its supply chain to enhance its product range. Additionally, it hired a head of development and a community engagement and success manager.

The new funding will enable the company to develop the FODZYME product, develop new products in the pipeline, for example, novel enzymes to deal with unexplained FODMAP clusters, and support planned clinical studies.

“During the fundraising, we found that Kiwi Bio did not fit the mold of a traditional biotech company or traditional consumer products, food or CPGs,” Liu said. “We had to find the right mix of investors to support us in all those dimensions, and especially those who are comfortable thinking at intersections.”

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