Microbiome startup Xycrobe, J&J partner on inflammatory skin diseases


Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has partnered with a microbiome startup in its JLABS San Diego incubator to develop treatments for inflammatory skin diseases. The company, Xycrobe Therapeutics, has been at the incubator since 2014.

The partners plan to apply Xycrobe’s tech, which includes a library of bacterial strains that have a symbiotic relationship living on human skin. The La Jolla, CA-based company has developed several strains of these commensal skin bacteria that could reduce skin inflammation, including in diseases including acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

Interestingly, the deal is with J&J’s Consumer business, rather than its drug development arm Janssen.

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"The current paradigm for treating skin conditions, such as acne, completely disregards the importance of the commensal skin flora. Overuse of antibiotics have led to a higher prevalence of resistant strains of bacteria and along with that comes less efficacy for conventional treatments. So, we are attempting to change that paradigm," said Xycrobe founder and CEO Thomas Hitchcock in a statement.

He continued, "We feel that the key to better treatment solutions for skin disease lies in understanding our body's interaction with the skin microbiome, and how we can leverage this information.”

Xycrobe expects to pursue programs related to various skin issues including hair loss and toenail fungus, but its initial focus is on these inflammatory skin diseases.

Johnson & Johnson has been actively pursuing microbiome-based treatments. It has created the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute (JHMI) specifically to pursue such research. It has research centers in Cambridge, MA and Beerse, Belgium.

The pharma has done some deals on the microbiome front including a pair that are both focused on inflammatory bowel disease—one with Cambridge, MA-based Vedanta Biosciences and the other with South San Francisco, CA-based Second Genome.

The Vedanta deal, which dates from last year, was Janssen’s first to in-license a microbiome therapeutic candidate.

- here is the release

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