CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Vedanta Biosciences, pioneering the development of a novel class of therapies designed to modulate pathways of interaction between the human microbiome and the host immune system, today announced that it has entered into a translational collaboration with the NYU Langone Medical Center focused on developing novel microbiome-derived immunotherapies for cancer patients being treated with checkpoint inhibitors.
Under the terms of the agreement, Vedanta will collaborate with a group of oncologists led by Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone and a renowned melanoma and immunotherapy expert, on clinical studies to support the identification of new microbiome immunotherapies for cancer. The studies will also explore mechanisms by which the gut microbiome influences the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors in cancer patients. Recent research published in Cell by Vedanta co-founder Dr. Kenya Honda at Keio University, has suggested that human-dwelling bacterial strains can activate immune cells in the gut that could be harnessed for immunotherapies. Vedanta has a worldwide, exclusive license to IP covering Dr. Honda’s discovery. Other findings in the field indicate that gut bacteria can potentially modulate the therapeutic responses to checkpoint blockades, as well as other classes of cancer therapeutics.
“Dr. Weber is a pioneer in translational research, particularly in immunotherapy and the development of checkpoint inhibitors,” said Dr. Bruce Roberts, Chief Scientific Officer of Vedanta. “We look forward to working with Dr. Weber to expand Vedanta’s portfolio of immune activating microbial cocktails for use in standalone immunotherapy and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.”
“Checkpoint inhibitors are a major advance in cancer therapy, but many patients do not respond to therapy, and some patients who respond will eventually relapse,” said Dr. Weber. “Recent data suggest an important role for the microbiome in the anti-tumor activity of immunotherapy, and our other studies of the microbiome will offer interesting new clinical insights into how and why these treatments work. Further understanding of the role of the microbiome in immunotherapeutic responses against cancer may also lead to new and improved therapies.”
Vedanta Biosciences is pioneering development of a novel class of therapies designed to modulate pathways of interaction between the human microbiome and the host immune system, with clinical trials in certain indications expected to begin in the first half of 2017. Founded by PureTech Health (PureTech Health plc, PRTC.L) and a group of world-renowned experts in immunology and microbiology, Vedanta Biosciences is a leader in the microbiome field with capabilities to discover, develop and manufacture drugs based on live commensal microbes. Leveraging its proprietary technology platform and the expertise of its team of scientific cofounders, Vedanta Biosciences has isolated a vast collection of human-associated bacterial strains and characterized how the immune system recognizes and responds to these microbes. This work has led to the identification of human commensal bacteria that induce a range of immune responses – including induction of regulatory T cells and Th17 cells, among others – as well as the characterization of novel molecular mechanisms of microbial-host communication. These advances have been published in leading peer-reviewed journals including Science, Nature (multiple), Cell and Nature Immunology. Vedanta has harnessed these biological insights as well as data from clinical translational collaborations to generate a pipeline of programs in development for infectious disease, autoimmune disease, inflammation and immune-oncology. The clinical potential of therapeutic manipulation of the microbiome has been validated by multiple randomized, controlled trials in infectious disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Vedanta’s scientific co-founders have pioneered the fields of innate immunity, Th17 and regulatory T cell biology, and include Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov (Professor of Immunobiology at Yale), Dr. Alexander Rudensky (tri-institutional Professor at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute, the Rockefeller University and Cornell University), Dr. Dan Littman (Professor of Molecular Immunology at NYU), Dr. Brett Finlay (Professor at the University of British Columbia) and Dr. Kenya Honda (Professor, School of Medicine, Keio University).