‘Maintaining the microbiome’: Biotech startup Sequential Skin debuts in vivo B2B testing service
Sequential Skin kickstarted with the launch of its direct-to-consumer (D2C) at-home patch testing kit in 2019, enabling consumers to assess overall skin health in real-time, considering genetic predisposition and current microbiome condition. The company had now scaled sufficiently to offer testing for companies in the beauty and personal care space.
In vivo testing on skin, hair, oral and vaginal microbiomes
Its B2B offering Sequential Bio enabled in vivo microbiome testing to be conducted with various topical products, offering more relevance to real-world conditions versus in vitro testing. The end-to-end service, currently ran from the company’s Singapore and New York labs, offered tests for various applications – currently skin, hair, oral and vaginal microbiome – and offered extensive analysis, reporting and a ‘Maintaining the Microbiome’ seal upon completion.
“This is for consumer care companies that want to test their products and their effect on the human microbiome,” said Dr Oliver Worsley, co-founder and CEO of Sequential Skin.
“Either a company will want to develop a formulation and we help with that and do the testing, or they have a formulation and they want to certify it as friendly to the microbiome,” Worsley told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
He said edging into B2B testing had happened naturally, as companies started to approach Sequential Skin asking.
“Since March last year, we have taken on over 20 consumer care companies, with microbiome products targeting skin care, hair care and intimate areas. Naturally, it has made sense to separate this from the consumer business and launch Sequential Bio,” Worsley said.
In vivo versus in vitro – addressing ‘significant complexity’
Offering testing in vivo – in or on the human body and in real world conditions – was especially important in the microbiome field, he said, versus working in the lab with cells.
Why? “My CSO and co-founder Dr Albert Dashi and I have done a lot of in vitro work during our PhDs, but we realised the limitation extrapolating in vitro data, e.g. on cells in a lab only, in the microbiome field to human: skin, gut, oral or vaginal microbiome.
“…Microbiology companies exist to test the effect of consumer care products in vitro, however, very few actually test in vivo and on the human body. There’s a significant complexity that needs to be taken into account, and our approach does exactly that, with controls to make sure we capture the microbiome diversity, and key biomarkers, accurately,” he said.
Sequential Skin also offered expertise on study design and concise analysis, he said, which was especially important for companies looking to innovate or validate claims. The testing used “highly sensitive assays” that allowed for “absolute quantification of the microbiome, rather than relative abundance”, he said.
Consumer care companies ‘targeting the microbiome’
Asked who Sequential Skin was hoping to work with under Sequential Bio, Worsley said: “Our audience is the growing number of consumer care companies that are targeting the microbiome. The skin microbiome modulators market, for example, is expanding at an exponential rate (…) and other microbiome industries are following suite. Our clients are international, with many coming from the US and UK, whilst our clients in Asia are growing as people around the world take an interest in targeting the microbiome for human health.”
And because a “large part of existing technology and R&D” for this testing was already completed given Sequential Skin’s work in D2C, the B2B service was “immediately scalable”.
“We are quickly growing our team and we have some of the most innovative minds in bioinformatics, molecular research and product formulation. So, we’re excited to be in this expanding field that is microbiome research,” Worsley said.
Interested in learning more about the Skin Microbiome and future direction for this fast-growing category? Join CosmeticsDesign-Europe in Copenhagen at the end of this month at Probiota 2022 for an expert roundtable and lunch sessions on this rising movement.