If you are interested in microbiome testing, you may have heard of uBiome. As one of the first microbiome testing companies, uBiome has the world’s largest microbiome database. They also allow “time-lapse” tests, which you can use to analyze your microbiome through a lifestyle change, such as a dietary change.

However, uBiome has recently been raided by the FBI for its fraudulent billing practices and had to fire hundreds of employees. In addition, because the incursion stopped their predatory billing practices, they had to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company is still offering one of its tests through bankruptcy, which will likely end up with a larger company buying uBiome and its operations. Therefore, you should definitely read this full review before deciding to give them your money.

uBiome – Advantages and Disadvantages

This brief review summarizes our main findings in the uBiome review. Check out the full review below!

Advantage

  • One of the first microbiome testing companies
  • Greater microbial database
  • Almost 1,000,000 users
  • Users can choose a ‘time-lapse’ option, allowing testing throughout a lifestyle change
  • uBiome conducts research and supports microbiome-related scientific efforts

Disadvantage

  • uBiome has engaged in tortuous and fraudulent billing practices.
  • The results are not clear, nor are they processable.
  • The results beautify the real science behind the testing of the microbiome
  • Customers ‘ complaints against uBiome are harsh and overwhelming

While the idea that microbiome tests can change your life is appealing, this is far from the real truth. uBiome tries to sell the idea that just knowing what’s in his microbiome, he’ll be on the way to good health. In reality, science is still unclear whether the microbiome causes disease or whether diseases cause changes in the microbiome. With the recent FBI incursion of uBiome initiated by fraudulent insurance billing practices, users must be very cautious in purchasing a uBiome test. In addition, while your results will show hundreds of different types of bacteria in your system, uBiome provides some process steps to change your microbiome and the results greatly embellish the scientific understanding of the microbiome.

Key Data from the uBiome Review

Can be used forGut Microbiome Testing
Microbiome Collection MethodFecal Swab
Microbiome Testing MethodA patented combination of 16S gene and Shotgun Metagenomics Sequencing
Time-Lapse Testing?Yes
AvailabilityMost Countries
Price$89 – $199
Number of users>500,000
OwnershipJessica Richman, Zachary Apte, Will Ludington, Numerous Venture Capital Organizations
Address180 Steuart St. #194165San Francisco, CA, 94103
Website Addresshttps://ubiome.com/
Client Reviews1 of 5 Stars with the Better Business Bureau“F” rating from the Better Business Bureau2.4 of 5 Stars on Amazon

Company Background for uBiome

uBiome was initially launched after a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, which raised several hundred thousand dollars. The founders, Jessica Richman, Zachary Apte and will Ludington were scientists at the Institute of Quantitative Biosciences before uBiome began. This attracted the attention of the venture capitalists, who then fully financed the new company. By 2015, the company was offering a $ 1 million grant program to researchers for Microbiome sampling and analysis. Since then, the company has received certification of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), as well as accreditation from the College of American Pathologists.

However, in April 2019, uBiome headquarters was raided by the FBI on suspicion of insurance fraud. The company had been double and triple charging patients for their clinical trial, while at the same time trying to charge insurance for their home microbiome test. The halt of these practices exposed the huge amount of debt in the company was, forcing them to declare bankruptcy. As the company looks for buyers for its assets, it continues to sell 1 non-clinical version of its microbiome test: Explorer. Supposedly, the company has found enough money to pay the staff needed to offer and maintain these tests, although that may change in the near future when they find a buyer for their patents and processes.

Bid Review uBiome

uBiome previously had 3 Basic offers. SmartGut and SmartJane tests were both microbiome tests ordered by the doctor. The SmartGut test was intended to help diagnose and treat chronic intestinal conditions, while the SmartJane test was intended to help diagnose and treat disorders of vaginal microbiome, such as vaginitis. These two tests have been suspended since the incursion of the FBI in April 2019, probably due to the fact that these tests were part of the plan of uBiome to sobrefacturar to the insurance companies.

The only test still available to consumers is the Explorer test. Unlike the other two offers from uBiome, the Explorer test does not require a doctor’s orders. Anyone can order an Explorer test, which can be used anywhere on the body they want. Measure your skin microbiome by rubbing areas of your skin, or measure your gut microbiome by sampling your stool. Once your Explorer test has been tested by the laboratory, you will be able to access your results on your website or through your phone application. The results will allow you to compare your microbiome with the uBiome database and to know the possible reasons for the differences.

The test Explorer costs $ 89 for a test a single time. However, the company also allows you to take multiple tests and compare your results over time. You can subscribe to a monthly test for $ 72, or you can buy 3 Tests in advance for $ 199. These options are excellent for people who try a new diet, change a lifestyle habit, or take a new medication. Time-lapse results allow you to see how these changes affect the composition of the intestinal microbiome and can help you determine whether these changes were beneficial or harmful to your health.

What Separates uBiome From Other Companies in That Regard?

The company uses a patented process that includes two common test methods for the diversity and function of the microbiome. Sequencing the 16S gene is an accurate way to find out what types of bacteria are present in the intestine. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing is used to determine how active these bacteria are and what chemical functions they are completing inside your intestine.

What separates uBiome from other companies in that regard?

Together, this gives uBiome scientists a fairly complete picture of what is happening inside your intestine. In addition, as one of the first companies to start collecting microbiome samples, they have one of the largest databases. This does not make your tests and methods the best, but it does provide you with the greatest opportunity to find new correlations between the microbiome and health conditions.

How Does It Work, What Will Include Your uBiome Kit?

After purchasing your kit with uBiome, you will receive a packet of microbiome tests by mail. The kit contains 2 swabs and 2 sample vials, but you will only need 1 of each. The others are backup, in case you accidentally spill the liquid from the original sample vial. The Explore test allows you to test any area you want, although the intestinal microbiome is usually tested with a stool sample.

To get a stool sample, simply use the swabs provided to get a rice-sized amount of stool from your toilet paper after cleaning it. You deposit the swab in the vial of the sample, which contains a small amount of liquid. The fluid is a mixture of different chemicals that stop bacterial growth and preserve DNA and RNA sequences within the sample as they reach the laboratory. Close the vial of the sample, place it on the prepaid envelope and send it back to uBiome. You should receive your results within a month or so, depending on the volume of uBiome kits you are currently processing.

Understanding Results

The results you receive from a uBiome test will include a breakdown of your microbiome by gender. Associations found between presence and populations of different genera may suggest whether you are at risk for certain conditions. The interactive platform allows you to click on different types of bacteria to learn more about what they do and how they can affect your health.

At the uBiome Learning Center, you can find dozens of conditions that are associated with your microbiome. These conditions include things like cardiovascular disease, stroke, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and even skin health. However, the succinct and easy-to-understand conclusions drawn at the Learning Centre are not always supported by sound science.

For example, within the topic Dermatitis, we try to follow the studies presented to the evidence that uBiome claims they use to determine if their microbiome can lead to skin dermatitis. The studies provided some evidence that dermatitis was related to the microbiome of the skin, but no studies were presented showing a clear causal relationship between the microbiomes and dermatitis. Several theories abound, but no one knows exactly why or how the microbiome causes dermatitis.

In fact, it could be the opposite: dermatitis could cause a difference in the microbiome, not the other way around. This would mean that dermatitis itself has different causes, and it simply manifests as an interruption of the microbiome.

While uBiome’s results will give you a lot to see and reflect on, it may not give you any usable results.

uBiome and the FBI

In April 2019, uBiome’s offices were raided by the FBI on suspicion of insurance fraud. Apparently, in an effort to increase sales and profits, the company overcharged and doubled the insurance companies for their tests ordered by the doctor, SmartGut and SmartJane. For example, when a doctor would order one intestinal microbiome test, uBiome would bill the insurance for two Tests, or charge extra for the test. This led insurance companies to file complaints against uBiome, which the FBI is still investigating.

The board of uBiome, in the light of the accusations of the FBI, has suspended all the founders of the company. A restructuring expert was hired to lead the company through these accusations. So far, the company has suspended its tests on microbial SmartGut and SmartJane. It is unclear whether the company will face formal charges, although it seems likely. Due to these pressures from regulators, creditors and the public, uBiome went bankrupt in September 2019. The company is looking to liquidate its assets or its entire business. While it is not known how long this process could take, the Explorer test is still being offered by a much smaller “Ghost” staff. This means you can buy an Explorer test, but you probably shouldn’t.

uBiome and the FBI

Media Coverage and User Opinions

The media have not been kind to uBiome, especially since the FBI raided his offices. Most of the media coverage around uBiome covers this aspect, while many other stories cover the questionable benefits of testing your microbiome. However, it should be noted that uBiome recently established a partnership with the cosmetics giant L’oreal, suggesting that their business is far from Gone and will continue to offer microbiome tests through their legal problems, even if they are eventually purchased by a larger company.

  • PRNewswire-uBiome presents voluntary Chapter 11 petitions to accelerate an orderly and efficient sales process
  • STAT – start of problem microbiome to fire some employees, reimburse federal insurers ‘ payments
  • Becker’s Health-7 updates on ongoing uBiome research
  • Forbes: UBiome’S new CEO is a long-standing restructuring expert who worked previously with a failed drone start Lily Robotics
  • Wall Street Journal – some smiling faces in online customer testimonials are archival photos
  • PRNewswire – L’oréal announces an association with the leader of microbial genomics uBiome to advance further research on the microbiome of the skin.

User acceptance:

uBiome doesn’t have a lot of support from his clients. In fact, the company received an “F” rating from The Better Business Bureau, which relates to its inadequate billing practices and customer complaints.

  • 1 of 5 stars – Better Business Bureau reviews (16 total)
  • 2.4 out of 5 stars – Amazon (11 total)

Users who are happy with uBiome mentioned the following points:

  1. The test allows you to test multiple points over time, to observe your microbiome through a lifestyle change.
  2. Customers appreciated the easy-to-use sampling kit
  3. The kit can give you information on many ways your microbiome works

Users who give uBiome a 1 star review mentioned the following worthy points:

  1. Insurance fraud-many customers complained that their insurance was billed, even though they ordered the Explorer test, not related to a doctor or health services.
  2. The results are ” practically impossible to understand,” as one Amazon reviewer said.
  3. Their “results” simply show which bacteria are in your system, but they hardly provide information about what these bacteria do or how they affect it.
  4. Interpreting the results without a gastroenterologist is really difficult.
  5. Several consumers reported that their results were never processed or published.

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