NuMe Health, the New Orleans biotechnology company developing prebiotics for disease prevention, closed its series A-1 financing round and hired Dean P. Stull, PhD, as chief executive officer. The $675,000 financing was led by BVM Capital LLC. The funds from the financing will be used primarily to support corporate and product development as the company prepares to commercialize its first prebiotic products for the dietary supplement and health food markets.
“The closing of this venture financing is an important milestone for NuMe Health that should enable us to accelerate the development and launch of our first prebiotic products,” said Dr. Stull. “This is an exciting time as scientists are uncovering the critical role that the bacteria which co-exist in our bodies play in health and disease. NuMe intends to be a leader in developing novel evidence-based prebiotic products to help prevent and manage common diseases, initially targeting conditions involving metabolism and the maintenance of healthy body weight.”
Prebiotics are based on scientists’ rapidly expanding knowledge of how the microbiome–the large population of microbes, their genomes and the interactions between them within the GI tract–can significantly impact human health. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients that serve as nutrients for beneficial GI bacteria. Unlike probiotics, which attempt to add certain microbes to the GI tract, prebiotics work primarily by providing the nutrition that these beneficial microbes need to grow and thrive. Since the huge number of microbes in the GI tract can overwhelm the relatively small amounts of bacteria contained in probiotic supplements, many researchers believe that prebiotics may have a more significant and lasting impact on health.
NuMe’s prebiotic products are derived from bioactive ingredients in edible plants that promote the growth of specific beneficial bacteria with the potential to positively affect metabolic conditions such as pre-diabetes, diabetes and maintenance of healthy body weight.
“We are committed to supporting promising new enterprises that are leveraging the unique resources of the greater New Orleans region, and we are delighted to lead this first financing for NuMe Health,” said Ross Barrett, general partner at BVM Capital and a director of NuMe Health. “NuMe is addressing an emerging field that we believe has great potential to impact human health. It has acquired promising technology and assembled an outstanding team of experienced entrepreneurs and scientists. Our region offers world-class expertise in the areas of nutrition and metabolic health, as exemplified by the renowned Pennington Biomedical Research Center. This expertise, along with the first-rate facilities available at NuMe’s NOBIC location, will contribute to NuMe’s progress as it advances its first prebiotic products towards commercialization.”
Before joining NuMe Health as CEO, Dr. Stull was the founder and principal of Innovation Science, which provides consulting services for biotechnology, medical food and functional food companies. He also serves as chairman of the board of Pyxant Laboratories, which provides bio-analytical services. Previously, Dr. Stull was chief scientific officer of medical foods company Efficas, president of InB: Hauser Pharmaceutical Services and president of InB: Paxis Pharmaceuticals, which he founded. Earlier, Dr. Stull was a founder, CEO and president of Nasdaq-listed biotechnology company Hauser Inc. He received a BS degree from Colorado State University and MS and PhD degrees from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Dr. Stull is replacing NuMe Health founding CEO Dale Pfost. Dr. Pfost, who is currently a partner at Advent Ventures, continues as a director of NuMe. Dr. John Elstrott, chairman of Whole Foods Market and a clinical professor of entrepreneurship at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, continues as chairman of NuMe Health.
“The Human Microbiome Project is rapidly expanding our understanding of the integral role our resident microorganisms play in key aspects of health, making it possible for a biotechnology innovator like NuMe to apply rigorous science to develop prebiotic products for improved disease prevention and management,” said Dr. Elstrott. “I am pleased to welcome medical foods veteran Dean Stull as CEO and want to thank Dale Pfost for his vision in launching the company and helping to complete this financing.”
Dr. Frank Greenway, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of NuMe Health, is chief of Outpatient Clinic and a noted researcher in the Divisions of Obesity and Functional Foods at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, an affiliate of Louisiana State University that is at the forefront of medical research in such chronic diseases as obesity and diabetes. Dr. Greenway noted, “Emerging research on the human microbiome suggests that novel approaches such as prebiotics may have great potential in the prevention and management of diabetes and other weight-related disorders. I applaud NuMe for its commitment to evidence-based product development in this exciting new field and look forward to serving on the NuMe SAB as the company advances its product candidates into clinical testing.”