PureTech’s Vedanta raises $27m for microbiome research

US-based Vedanta Biosciences has raised $27 million in a Series C financing to investigate microbiome-derived therapies for several indications, including cancer and food allergy.

Investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Rock Springs Capital, Invesco Asset Management, Seventure Partners, and PureTech Health. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance the company’s pipeline, including a phase 1b/2 study of VE800 in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) in advanced or metastatic cancers, a phase 2 study of VE303 in recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (rCDI), and a phase 1/2 study of VE416 in food allergy.

The connection between the microbiome and the immune system has been an area of increasing interest for pharma over the last few years, and studies suggest that checkpoint inhibitor drugs like Opdivo are significantly amplified when combined with beneficial bacterial.

Vedanta was founded by PureTech Health, and last year the two companies laid out their plans for combining microbiome treatments with immunotherapies to enhance the effect of the cancer drugs.

Unlike single strain or microbiome-derived metabolite approaches to microbiome modulation, Vedanta is developing consortia of bacterial strains designed to effect “robust and durable” therapeutic changes in a patient’s gut microbiota.

In contrast to fecal transplants or administration of fecal fractions, Vedanta Biosciences’ consortia are defined compositions of bacteria manufactured from pure, clonal cell banks, which the company says bypass the need to rely on direct sourcing of fecal donor material of inconsistent composition.

“We are pleased to have the support of our new and existing investors as we continue to build on our leadership position in the microbiome field,” said Bernat Olle, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We have demonstrated that rationally-defined bacterial consortia as a new drug modality can be safe, well-tolerated, and have favorable pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in humans. These new funds, together with our partnerships with Janssen and Bristol-Myers Squibb, will help us advance four programs to clinical endpoints in recurrent C. difficile infection, food allergy, IBD, and several cancer indications.”

Minnesota-based company Rebiotix has already had success with microbiome treatments in C difficile – their drug RBX2660 has shown success in a phase 2 trial and has been granted Orphan Drug status, Fast Track status and gained Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA.

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