MaaT bags €18M to test microbiome modulators in cancer patients

MaaT Pharma has raised an €18 million ($20 million) series B round. The financing equips MaaT to wrap up a phase 2 trial of its lead microbiome therapy in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) while expanding into solid tumors. 

Lyon, France-based MaaT is one of a clutch of drug developers trying to treat disease by restoring the microbiome. At MaaT, the most advanced manifestation of that idea is MaaT013, a standardized, pooled-donor microbiota biotherapeutic. MaaT013 builds on evidence that fecal microbiota transfer improves outcomes in steroid-refractory acute GVHD patients.

MaaT has generated its own early signs of clinical efficacy through a compassionate use program that gave MaaT013 to eight allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation patients who developed steroid-dependent or steroid-refractory gastrointestinal GVHD.

Buoyed by a 75% response rate in the heavily pretreated patients, MaaT has persuaded investors to bankroll the next stage of its development. SymBiosis contributed money alongside MaaT’s existing backers Seventure Partners, Crédit Mutuel Innovation and Biocodex, giving the French biotech a U.S. VC to balance out its Europe-skewed syndicate.

MaaT will use the money to finish a phase 2 trial of MaaT013 in GVHD. Data from the study are due this year. That trial is administering MaaT013 as an enema. MaaT is also working on an oral version of the drug, MaaT033, to ease administration and support its expansion into new indications. 

A phase 1b that will give solid tumor patients MaaT033 in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor is in the works. The planned trial comes in the wake of evidence that the microbiome influences systemic and anti-tumor immune responses, suggesting drugs that alter the mix of microorganisms in the gut may be able to improve the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors.

Seres Therapeutics allied with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and MD Anderson Cancer Center to test that idea in 2017. Last year, AstraZeneca struck a deal to test Seres’ SER-401 in combination with assets in its cancer pipeline.

The series B positions MaaT to join the race to show drugs that modulate the microbiome can have positive effects on solid tumor patients. MaaT expects to have preliminary safety and dose-finding data from the phase 1b in the second half of the year.