The gut environment evaluation method that aims for its control

Video provided by NHK Enterprises CG supervised by Shinji Fukuda

The human gut is said to have the highest density of microbes on earth.  The number of gut microbiota living in the gut per person is estimated to reach more than 1,000 species, about 40 trillion in actual cell count. Considering that there are approximately 37 trillion human cells that constitute our body, a vast amount of microbes reside in our gut.

By making good use of “food leftovers” that have escaped our digestive system, gut microbiota produce a variety of metabolites, including short-chain fatty acids. Some of these metabolites are absorbed through the intestinal tract and transferred into the bloodstream, circulating throughout the body. It is no exaggeration to say that the gut microbiota controls not only the digestive system, but also the immune system, metabolic system, and even the functions of remote organs, hence controlling our entire body. Therefore, we believe that the gut microbiota can be considered as another organ in our body.

Recent studies have successively revealed that the gut environment is closely related to the onset of disease and maintenance of health. The composition of the gut microbiota varies greatly from individual to individual because it is altered by various environmental factors such as long-term lifestyle and diet. Hence, composition of the gut bacteria-derived metabolites also vary greatly among individuals, leading to different effects on the gut environment.

In order to properly evaluate the individual gut environment, it is important to use genetic analysis (the metagenomics) to determine “what kind and how many bacteria are present” and metabolite analysis (the metabolomics) to determine “what kind and how much gut microbiota-derived metabolites are present”. By integrating these two technologies with bioinformatics, we have established a unique gut environment evaluation method called “Metabologenomics®” and made it possible to evaluate the gut environment with the “control of the gut environment” in mind.

As a start-up company based on research and development, Metagen, Inc. continues to boldly take on the challenge of research and development in order to achieve our ultimate goal of eliminating human diseases. We are not limited to Metabologenomics®, but will constantly explore cutting-edge science technology to promote R&D and business development based on scientific evidence.

Message from the CEO

Stratified medicine and healthcare based on the gut environment is the key to extending healthy life expectancy

Metagen, Inc.
President CEO
Shinji Fukuda

Recent advances in science and technology and the relentless challenge of scientists have led to the discovery of “another organ” in the human body – gut microbiota. It is the myriad of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract. The intestinal tract, although being on the inside, can also be considered the “outer surface” of our body as it is always exposed to environmental factors from the outside world. Hence, it is greatly affected by our lifestyle, such as long-term diet and lifestyle habits. It has been recently revealed that the composition and balance of gut microbiota is unique to individuals, contributing to maintenance of health while its balance is exquisitely preserved. However, disturbance in that balance can lead to disorders and onset of various diseases. Not only is it associated with gut-related diseases and bowel movements, it affects every nook and crannies of our body including immune system, metabolic system, allergies, physical endurance, obesity, sleep quality, skin conditions and brain functions.

Our unique gut microbiota serves as “a fermentation tank” in our gut and hence we must think about what to deliver into that tank. That is to say, different tanks i.e. gut microbiota will produce different metabolites from the same feed, leading to different resulting effects.

We at Metagen believe that realizing “stratified healthcare”, a healthcare approach considering the individual difference of the gut microbiota, and “Gut Design®”, control of the gut environment in the desired direction, will become the key to not only extension of healthy life expectancy but also to helping each individual lead a life that fulfills his or her needs, both in daily life and in the future.

Examining the gut environment and subsequently selecting appropriate foods is very logical from a scientific point of view. However, there is a big gap between what is scientifically known and what is applied in society. At Metagen, Inc., we are committed to conducting research and development in a sustainable manner based on our mission of “Make gut environment-based healthcare a new norm,” We will continue to create businesses to realize a society with “zero disease” by conducting research and development in a sustainable manner and seamlessly implementing the results in society.

However, to achieve the “zero disease” society that our group is aiming for, it is not enough to create one medicine, one food product, or one supplement. In collaboration with our many partner companies, we will continue our constant search for ways to co-create the future we want to realize with what each of the partner companies wishes to accomplish. We will continue to lead the way in pioneering a new future for mankind by linking scientific evidence to the value we provide to society through our own sweat.

Creating a stratified medicine, drug discovery and healthcare industry based on the gut environment

(ICC KYOTO 2019 メディカル&ヘルスケア カタパルト スタートアップが語る未来像にて)

In 2006, completed a doctoral course in Agriculture at Meiji University Graduate School of Agriculture. After working as a special researcher in basic sciences at RIKEN, he became a specially appointed associate professor at the Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University from 2012, a specially appointed professor at the same university from 2019, and a representative director of the Society for Intestinal Design from 2021, 2022. Since 2010, he has also been a specially appointed professor at the Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University. In 2015, he won the grand prize at the Bioscience Grand Prix for his business plan “A healthy society created from stool” and established Metagen, Inc. He assumed the position of President and CEO. Specialty is the gut design studies.

Message from the CTO

Metagen Inc.
Vice President CTO
Takuji Yamada

It was said that basic research takes 100 years before it becomes useful to society. While many of the true innovations for humanity that purely scientific research can bring about do take that long, the time required from basic research to social implementation is very short for some specific disciplines. This is especially true for the human gut environment research, a field in which the distance between its research results and society is very close. Research has progressed greatly over the past decade, and it’s frontier has come to the point where it can contribute to and influence our social lives.

Metagen Inc. is a research and development start-up company specializing in the human gut environment. Our main theme is to conduct research and development on the human gut environment using cutting-edge technologies and to implement the resulting discoveries in society.

Metagen’s technology makes it possible to visualize the state of the human gut environment. By quantifying the effects of oral intake on the human gut environment, and by understanding the effects through the gut environment, it will be possible to implement scientific evidence in various products and services.

How do we commercialize scientific discoveries and research? I believe the key to the future of science lies in the answers to that question. As a for-profit organization, Metagen Inc. will continue to stay strict to evidence-based science while moving forward on the path to commercializing it. In the future, we will also collaborate with the medical field and apply this technology for diagnosis in hospitals. By fully utilizing big data on the gut environment and contributing to medical care and product development, we will advance the health of mankind one step further.

In 2006, completed the doctoral course in Science at the Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University. After working as a research assistant at the Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, a researcher at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, and a lecturer at the Graduate School of Life Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, he has been an associate professor at the Department of Life Science and Technology, School of Life Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology since 2016. In 2015, he became Executive Vice President and CTO of Metagen, Inc. In 2020 he won the Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award for Science and Technology (Research Category). Specialty in bioinformatics.