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Published January 25, 2022
A University of Wyoming startup company focused on developing a gout probiotic has been accepted into IndieBio’s newest San Francisco cohort.
Unlocked Labs Inc., housed in IMPACT 307’s business incubator, is a consumer probiotic company that unlocks silent genes within the microbiome to regain the power for the human body to reduce toxins naturally. Unlocked Labs, formerly known as Theraneutrics LLC, was among only 13 companies worldwide selected.
IMPACT 307 is a statewide network of innovation-driven business incubators committed to growing and strengthening Wyoming’s entrepreneurial community by providing resources and support for founders to thrive.
Christoph Geisler and James Francis, co-founders of Unlocked Labs, will spend the next four months engaged in an intensive startup accelerator program for early-stage biotech companies. IndieBio SF operates under SOSV, a global venture capital firm that supports early-stage startup development programs.
“We are honored to be accepted into this program,” Geisler says. “It is a substantial recognition of our company’s potential in the biotech space, given that only 13 companies worldwide were selected to participate in this year’s cohort.”
Unlocked Labs is focused on developing proprietary probiotic strains to improve microbiome health. By activating the dormant or “unlocked” power of common gut bacteria, the company is tackling gut-related conditions such as gout, kidney stones and other metabolic conditions.
The first product, a gout probiotic, is designed to balance uric acid levels in the body. Uric acid is a normal byproduct of a healthy human metabolism. However, high concentrations of uric acid in the body can cause needle-sharp crystals to develop within joints, a condition known as gout. By activating a section of DNA within a common strain of bacteria, the company has developed a probiotic strain that can target and reduce uric acid within the gut before it develops into painful crystal deposits.
The company was first introduced when Unlocked Labs, then Theraneutrics, was named a winning finalist in the 2020 Southeast Wyoming Innovation Launchpad (SEWYIL).
“Looking back, pitching at SEWYIL was really about articulating the vision I had for the company,” Geisler says. “Since then, we have raised enough funding to begin to execute on that vision, with initial plans for a large-scale manufacturing facility in southeast Wyoming.”
Since founding Unlocked Labs in 2018, Geisler and Francis have used many resources available to Wyoming companies, such as workforce development grants, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network and the IMPACT 307 incubator program.
The two worked with Kelly Haigler Cornish, Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative program manager, to apply for and secure a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation. This funded initial research for the gout probiotic, including a mouse efficacy study that will be completed this spring.
“Kelly has been a trusted adviser for us since the beginning,” Francis says.
With their acceptance into IndieBio, Unlocked Labs plans to fast-track research activities and streamline product development including generally recognized as safe certification. The team is set to present at the IndieBio SF Demo Day this spring.
“The big takeaway from this news is that Wyoming startups have potential,” says Fred Schmechel, interim director of IMPACT 307. “An important piece of our job as supporters is celebrating the progress Wyoming companies are making, not only to celebrate the entrepreneurs themselves but to celebrate that the opportunity exists right here in Wyoming.”
The public is invited to support the newest startups in southeast Wyoming at the 2022 SEWYIL Pitch Day March 4. The event will be hosted at the Surbrugg/Prentice Auditorium on the Laramie County Community College campus in Cheyenne, as well as virtually.
For more information, go to www.impact307.org/events.