CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--EnBiotix, Inc. announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations (“GCE”) winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The EnBiotix team will pursue an innovative global health and development research project entitled “Integrated Systems Biology for Phage/Microbiome Modeling” for the generation and visualization of novel network models highlighting host-microbe interactions and the subnetworks most altered by phage therapy. The approach should yield an enhanced understanding of the effect of the gut microbiome on the development a variety diseases involving disruptions in the microbiome and ultimately aid in the development of precision phage therapies for environmental enteric dysfunction in children.
Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is still poorly understood, however it is currently defined as a syndrome of inflammation, reduced absorptive capacity, and reduced barrier function in the small intestine. It is widespread among children and adults in low- and middle-income countries. EED develops during infancy and is associated with poor sanitation, certain gut infections, and micronutrient deficiencies (Crane RJ, 2015). EED is associated with growth faltering, which can lead to impaired cognitive development as well as other long-term health problems (Foundation, 2016).
“Our comprehensive systems biology approach will enable empirical, perturbation-based experiments and simultaneous analysis of the molecular responses in both the host and its microbial population. This important work should lead to the identification of the most relevant host genes associated with the immunogenic response of the host to phage therapy and also shed new light on the biological and microbial changes underpinning EED,” said Diane Joseph-McCarthy, Ph.D., Enbiotix’s VP of Translational Science, who will be leading the project at EnBiotix.
“The data sets generated are anticipated to be of significant value to not only the scientific and global health communities, but also to companies like us in the bio-pharmaceutical industry as we pursue the development of novel, engineered phage therapies for a variety of disorders involving the pediatric gut microbiome. We at EnBiotix plan to vigorously apply the learnings gained from this project in the pursuit of these phage therapies,” said Jeffrey D. Wager, MD, Chairman and CEO of EnBiotix.
Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. EnBiotix’s project is one of more than 40 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from a field of over 1400 applicants.
To receive funding, the EnBiotix team and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas.
The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in September 2016.
About EnBiotix’s Engineered Bacteriophage Platform
Phage therapy is an alternative and/or complementary approach to traditional antibiotics for treating bacterial infections. Bacteriophages are naturally-occurring viruses that only infect bacteria and not humans. They self-replicate inside the bacteria, harnessing bacterial machinery for DNA and protein synthesis and ultimately killing the bacteria by lysis of the cell. Bacteria protect themselves from antibiotics by secreting biofilms, creating a physical barrier as well as altering their metabolism within the biofilm to increase their tolerance to antibiotic action. EnBiotix is engineering bacteriophages to carry designed payloads that add anti-bacterial functionality to phage therapy beyond direct lysis of the cell. By combining multiple anti-bacterial modalities, mechanism-of-action and efficacy of antibiotics can be improved, even towards bacteria not directly infected by phage.
About EnBiotix’s In Silico Systems Biology Platform
EnBiotix’s proprietary systems biology platform has wide-ranging applications in bacterial, fungal, and mammalian systems. These in silico methods can elucidate regulatory mechanisms and possible metabolic changes associated with perturbations to any system, which in turn can be leveraged in a wide variety of human and animal health, agricultural and industrial applications.
About Grand Challenges Explorations
Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1186 projects in more than 61 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.
EnBiotix is an engineered antibiotics company deploying developing novel systems and synthetic biology technologies pioneered by Prof. James J. Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science Professor, Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These technologies enable development of both novel antibiotics and potentiators of existing antibiotics which have the potential to transform their spectrum of activity and resistance profile. With drug-resistant and drug-tolerant infections rapidly becoming a global health crisis, EnBiotix’s robust product pipeline addresses a wide range of acute and chronic infections to significantly impact the lives of patients. For more information, please visit www.enbiotix.com.