UK biotech Microbiotica has entered into a multi-year collaboration with Genentech, one of the world’s first biotechs, to develop microbiome-based treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.
Microbiotica, based in Cambridge, UK has entered into a collaboration with Genentech that could be worth up to €452M ($534M), a formidable amount in the microbiome space, with an undisclosed upfront payment. Their goal is to discover and develop new microbiome-based treatments, biomarkers and targets for inflammatory bowel disease, however, more specific information has not been released. The fact that Genentech, one of the oldest biotechs and now owned by Roche, is collaborating with Microbiotica underscores the therapeutic potential of microbiome-based treatments.
Microbiotica will analyze patient samples from Genentech’s inflammatory bowel disease clinical trials to identify new drug targets for the condition, study biomarkers that provide information on drug response, and develop new therapeutic products made of living bacteria. The company’s microbiota culture collection and reference genome database can perform metagenomic analyses and functional studies to match a gut bacterium with its particular function.
Our gut microbiome — trillions of microorganisms from around 1,000 different species that live in our intestines — is now known to play a vital role in maintaining our health. Not surprisingly, an imbalance of these microorganisms has been associated with a range of diseases, from inflammatory bowel disease to multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and even autism.
Many biotechs are trying to harness the potential of our gut bacteria to treat disease. For example, BiomX is using bacteriophages to refine the specificity of microbiome IBD treatments for certain bacterial strains and A-Mansia raised €13M earlier this year to develop new drugs and food supplements using a common gut microbiome bacterium. Enterome, the most advanced microbiome company in the IBD space, raised €32M earlier this year to bring its candidate for Crohn’s disease through Phase II.
Microbiotica was established in 2016 as a spin-out from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and is also developing treatments for immuno-oncology and Clostridium difficile.
Images by Kateryna Kon, Alila Medical Media/Shutterstock