(by Hoda Abou-Jamra, Founding Partner and Managing Director SEA)
Did you know that trillions of bacteria live in our gut and help keep us healthy?
No two people share the exact same composition of this healthy gut bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome. While there are some hereditary factors, our diet, lifestyle, and ethnicity affect much more the health of our gut microbiome. When this delicate balance of gut bacteria is disrupted, it gives rise to a whole slew of metabolic diseases and chronic conditions.
Common metabolic conditions include diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and thyroid disorders and they are on the rise. Early detection and effective treatment can help delay the onset of disease or even prevent these chronic conditions from occurring. However, to do so effectively in Asian communities, we need Asian ethnicity-specific data.
The Asian gut microbiome is different!
Studies show that:
- East Asian immigrants retain long-lasting gut microbiome structures as a unique fingerprint even far away from their homeland. This shows that while diet and lifestyle play important roles, ethnicity, or more likely maternal microbiome transmission, is also relevant
- East Asians can develop more metabolic complications even at lower BMIs compared to those of Caucasian descent – these problems can be linked to unhealthy gut microbiome
- Even among Asians, the gut microbiome can differ based on the country of origin
We do not have enough data on the Asian gut microbiome
While ‘personalized medicine’ is a common phrase now, Asians often get the short end of the stick when it comes to diagnostic tests, personalized therapies, drug development, and more. One of the biggest reasons why is a well-known “secret” in the world of clinical research: most studies are based on skewed data – test subjects are often white and male.
As a result, most diagnostic tests and therapeutic protocols established across the world have historically been designed for Caucasian bodies versus their Asian counterparts. And one large area where the voices of Asian patients are missing is in the diagnosis and treatment of metabolic diseases.
Here, at TVM Capital Healthcare, we are committed to advancing healthcare in our target regions. One significant step is to gain more insights into the Asian gut microbiome which will cause a ripple effect of positive changes for Asian-specific drug development, diagnostic tests, therapeutics, nutrition sciences, awareness-building, and much more. That was one of many reasons that led us to join the Series A Financing Round, recently closed by AMILI.asia, Southeast Asia’s first and only precision gut microbiome company. One of the main pillars of our investment approach is to address unmet healthcare needs and provide access to affordable quality healthcare services and products. We partner with the management teams in our portfolio, connect them to leading corporations as technology providers and renowned medical institutions as clinical allies to deliver superior care. Our portfolio companies create new, innovative, and integrated solutions designed to reach every individual – even in remote areas. Together, we develop integrated, patient-centric care throughout our target regions.