Brightseed receives $1.6 million grant to discover novel compounds that improve birth outcomes in undernourished pregnant and nursing mothers

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Brightseed (San Francisco, CA) has announced receipt of a second grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for $1.6 billion.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Rinelle

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Rinelle

Brightseed (San Francisco, CA) has announced receipt of a second grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for $1.6 billion. The company says in a press release that it will use the grant funding to focus its machine learning platform, Forager, on the identification and validation of natural bioactive compounds that target environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) in undernourished pregnant and lactating women. Brightseed explains that EED is a poorly understood condition caused in part by micronutrient deficiencies, undernutrition, certain gut infections, and abnormal gut microbiota. The condition itself is usually asymptomatic, but can result in nutrient malabsorption, stunting, and wasting in infants which can have long-term negative effects on the health and development of children.

“We’re extremely honored to receive this grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue to work toward addressing such a crucial global health crisis,” said Sofia Elizondo, co-founder and chief operating officer of Brightseed, in a press release. “Our proprietary technology enables us to develop scalable, nature-based solutions that were never previously possible, and by analyzing plant raw material from the local regions impacted most by undernutrition, our aim is that these sources will be both accessible and affordable.”

Previously, Brightseed received a $200,000 grant from the foundation that was used for a proof of concept program in which Brightseed discovered natural compounds that mimic aspects of azithromycin to support maternal gut health. The company states that results showed that there is a significant opportunity for using Forager to further discover and develop novel products that address maternal gut health to improve the outcomes of pregnant mothers and their infants.

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