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Microbial Genetics Firm Microba Life Sciences Raises A$30M in Australian IPO

NEW YORK — Microbial genetics firm Microba Life Sciences said on Monday that it has completed a A$30 million (US$22.9 million) initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Concurrent with the IPO, Ginkgo Bioworks invested US$3.5 million in Microba, translating to a roughly 4 percent stake in the Brisbane-based company. Earlier this month, Gingko and Microba partnered to discover single-strain, live bacteria drug candidates for autoimmune diseases.

Microba was spun out of the University of Queensland in 2017 to commercialize a technology for microbial analysis, with a focus on the human gut microbiome. In addition to its alliance with Ginkgo, the firm has formed research collaborations with Illumina and the University of Queensland. It has also struck commercialization deals for microbiome tests with Synlab and Psomagen.

Following the IPO and the Ginkgo investment, Microba said it will expand its microbiome testing business, which is aimed at both healthcare practitioners and consumers, and continue development of microbiome therapeutics using its proprietary microbial genome database. Microba said it expects to begin Phase I testing of a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease by the end of this year.

"Our leading technology position and a growing number of international partnerships provides a strong platform for growth," Microba Chairman Pasquale Rombola said in a statement. "We have received significant investor demand to continue building the premier global microbiome dataset and accelerating the discovery and development of new therapies."