Gut Bacteria Treatment Shows Promise for Rare Genetic Kidney Condition

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The Swedish biotech Oxthera reported positive preliminary Phase II results using its gut bacteria treatment, Oxabact, in patients with a rare genetic condition that causes kidney failure.  

The results came from an interim analysis one year into a three-year trial, where Oxthera is testing its gut microbiome treatment on patients with primary hyperoxaluria type 1. In this genetic disease, the body produces too much oxalate, a molecule whose buildup can cause kidney stones and kidney failure.

Oxabact was able to lower plasma oxalate,” stated Matthew Gantz, CEO of OxThera. “To our knowledge, [this trial] represents the longest efficacy and safety data of any intervention to lower the oxalate burden in patients with [primary hyperoxaluria type 1] to date.”

Due to kidney failure, the patients in the trial are undergoing dialysis to remove excess oxalate. However, this is often insufficient and the patient can die of oxalate damage to other organs. With Oxabact, Oxthera hopes to be able to keep the patient’s blood oxalate levels low until they can receive the only curative treatment: liver and kidney transplants.

Oxabact contains the gut bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes, which sit in the gut and eat oxalate, reducing its levels in the patient’s blood.

Founded in 2005, the company is also running a Phase III trial of its treatment in patients with primary hyperoxaluria, but not kidney failure, which it launched this year.

Oxthera is one of many companies seeking to exploit the microbiome to treat diseases. The US-based Synlogic, for example, is carrying out Phase I/II trials using bacteria to treat excess ammonia in the blood of patients with urea cycle disorders. UK-based Microbiotica is also developing live bacterial strain transplants to treat bacterial infections and even cancer. 

Images from Shutterstock

Explore other topics: MicrobiomeRare diseaseSweden

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