, Hong Kong
Photo from GUTolution

GUTolution’s custom probiotics address unique gut health needs

The start-up uses shotgun metagenomic sequencing to analyse a person’s gut microbiome.

Everyone has a different gut microbiome composition, even twins, which is why probiotics available in the market may work to resolve one’s gut health problem, but not for another. To address this gap, GUTolution came up with tailored probiotics.

The Hong Kong-based healthtech start-up manufactures custom probiotics based on the composition of a person’s unique gut microbiome which they analyse through health tests.

From the test, which can be done from home, GUTolution will develop a comprehensive report which sets out what is needed to resolve one’s gut health issues, amongst others.

Akin Smith, head of corporate partnerships at GUTolution, explained that they use shotgun metagenomic sequencing to analyse a person’s gut microbiome. 

"At GUTolution, we utilize shotgun metagenomic sequencing, a cutting-edge technology that surpasses the limitations of traditional 16S rRNA gene sequencing used by other providers. While 16S sequencing can identify only a few species per test, our approach provides over 35,000 data points, allowing us to identify more than 4,000 species. This comprehensive analysis enhances our ability to understand microbial communities." Smith told Hong Kong Business.

“This gives us the clearest possible picture of the gut microbiome. We have a much better base for providing recommendations,” Smith said.

In further elaborating on the advanced technology employed by GUTolution, Smith referenced policy formulation.

He stated, ‘When creating policies for Hong Kong, if policymakers were relying on a sample of only five people, this is likely suboptimal. By considering the entire population, policymakers gain a holistic view, enabling them to make more informed recommendations and policies. It’s the same with the gut microbiome.

Apart from the technology GUTolution uses, the startup also stands out in terms of price point. Smith said their tailored solutions are about $1,000 cheaper than most others in Hong Kong.

“It is important for us to make this as accessible as possible,” Smith said, adding that one of the startup’s goals is to educate people about gut health.

GUT health

Data from the Hong Kong Society of Gut Microbiome (HKSGM) revealed that 40% of people in the city have a moderate to severe degree of gut microbiome imbalance.

Amongst those suffering from gut health issues in the city was none other than the CEO of GUTolution. His personal experience with gut issues led him to start GUTolution with co-founder Wilson Chang, dedicated to improving gut health for others.

“Wayne faced significant gut health challenges. Despite exploring various approaches, including Chinese medicine and Western pharmacy solutions, he couldn’t discover a definitive solution. Wayne then took to self-studying and found that tailored probiotics were the answer. Since then, he has dedicated himself to making personalized probiotics accessible to everyone, allowing them to reap the benefits of improved gut health,” Chang said.

Smith said many still suffer gut health problems in silence, which is why GUTolution wants to educate people on how important gut health is.

Based on the start-up’s revenue, Smith believes that more people are starting to understand the importance of gut health and its association with a myriad of diseases, from things like eczema, all the way to cancer.

For those who want to start their gut health journey, GUTolution offers virtual health coaching where one can have one-on-one consultations with their in-house medical experts.

The start-up also has an application where one can build the right habits over time for better gut health.

Chang believes that the microbiome industry will continue to boom in the next 10 or 20 years with the emergence of new technologies. Chang added that some countries are already actively building their gut microbiome bank.

As the industry grows, GUTolution also plans to expand its market to the Greater Bay Area, Southeast Asia, and soon worldwide.

“In one to two years, we would like to explore markets outside Hong Kong,” Chang told Hong Kong Business, adding that the start-up is actively looking for investments to bring their goal to life as well as develop their business more.

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