According to a news release on Business Wire, Vedanta Biosciences, an affiliate of PureTech Health developing a new category of therapies for immune-mediated and infectious diseases based on rationally defined consortia of human microbiome-derived bacteria, today announced that it has received funding from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The funds will be used to advance Vedanta Biosciences’ new microbiome-derived therapeutic program for the treatment and potential interception of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This program is being advanced in collaboration with Dr. Kenya Honda, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Keio University School of Medicine and a scientific co-founder of Vedanta Biosciences.
Vedanta Biosciences’ scientific co-founders are world-renowned experts in immunology and microbiology who have pioneered the fields of innate immunity, Th17 and regulatory T cell biology, and include Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov (Yale and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)), Dr. Brett Finlay (Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia and HHMI), Dr. Kenya Honda (inventor of Vedanta Biosciences’ lead product candidate; Keio University and RIKEN), Dr. Dan Littman (New York University and HHMI), Dr. Alexander Rudensky (Sloan Kettering and HHMI), and Dr. Jeremiah Faith (Mount Sinai School of Medicine).
“As the first commercial organization to be awarded funding under the auspices of the Foundation’s newly-launched Entrepreneurial Investing Initiative, we are excited about the potential of Vedanta’s research to bring microbiome-derived therapies to our patients,” said Michael Osso, President & CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “Foundation-led research has helped to determine that the gut microbiome is a key link between genetic susceptibility and the onset and progression of IBD. Vedanta’s pioneering work has promise to advance discoveries in this area toward new therapeutic options for patients with IBD.”
This new IBD program, wholly owned by Vedanta Biosciences, aims to target pathogenic bacterial strains, particularly abundant in Crohn’s disease, that may lead to the onset of IBD. IBD is believed to result from interactions between genetic factors and environmental triggers, such as commensal bacteria with pathogenic potential (pathobionts). In foundational work recently published in Science, Dr. Honda’s group showed in preclinical studies that colonization with the pathobiont Klebsiella pneumoniae activates pro-inflammatory T helper 1 cells in the gut, resulting in intestinal inflammation and leading to onset of IBD. In ongoing preclinical work, Vedanta Biosciences has identified consortia of beneficial gut bacteria that can potentially target and decolonize Klebsiella.
“Dr. Honda’s research suggests an entirely new approach to help IBD patients by specific elimination of pro-inflammatory bacteria. We believe this approach could potentially be harnessed to both treat IBD as well as intercept the progression of the disease in its early stages or before diagnosis,” said Bernat Olle, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Vedanta Biosciences. “We are grateful to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation for their support and for the opportunity to work closely with patient groups to find a cure for IBD.”
In addition to this program, Vedanta Biosciences previously announced a partnership with Janssen Biotech, Inc. for the development of drug candidate VE202 in IBD. VE202 is based on a rationally defined consortium of bacteria with immunoregulatory properties. VE202 is expected to enter the clinic in the second half of 2018.