PureTech licenses ‘bacterial cocktail’ to boost cancer immunotherapy

PureTech Health is to develop a combination of a microbiome treatment with checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy to enhance the effect of the cancer drugs.

The Massachusetts biotech specialises in the interconnection, or what it calls the ‘crosstalk’ and biological processes associated with the brain, immune system and gut axis.

The company prides itself on tackling existing problems and diseases with novel approaches, and this latest research is based on remarkable insights into the connection between the microbiome and the immune system.

Its latest deal is based on preclinical studies which suggest the effects of checkpoint inhibitor class drugs are significantly amplified when combined with beneficial bacterial.

PureTech’s affiliate Vedanta Biosciences has licensed in intellectual property based on research of Dr Kenya Honda, professor at Keio University School of Medicine and collaborators in the University of Tokyo in Japan.

The therapy, licensed from JSR Corporation, involves the uses of symbiotic groups of bacteria – known as ‘consortia’ – that usually live on or around the human body and have been specially formulated to boost the immune system.

These live biotherapeutics have been shown to activate CD8+ T cells, a type of white blood cell that usually leads the attack after the immune system has been primed with cancer immunotherapy.

The biotech aims to combine the bacteria with existing immunotherapy drugs to produce a stronger attack on tumours.

Vedanta is working to take the lead orally administered product candidate, containing defined bacterial ingredients, into the clinic.  It plans to file an application to begin clinical trials with the FDA next year.

Bernat Olle

Bernat Olle, CEO of Vedanta Biosciences, said: “Dr Honda’s research suggests an entirely new approach to cancer immunotherapy harnessing the human microbiome, which has the potential to significantly enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies.”

Vedanta specialises in development of therapies for immune and infectious diseases, based on cocktails of bacteria derived from the human microbiome.

Its founding team included a group of experts in immunology and microbiology, and has isolated and maintains a largest collection of these bacterial strains.

This work has led to identification of strains inducing a range of immune responses including induction of regulatory T cells, CD8+ T cells, and Th17 cells, among others.

PureTech is also developing Gelesis100, a novel hydrogel that comes in a capsule, and when swallowed it swells up to provide the feeling of a full stomach and thereby reduce calorie intake in obese patients.

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