Vedanta nets $27M to move microbiome assets through the clinic

Barely a month after Vedanta Biosciences collected a $12 million payment from Johnson & Johnson, the biotech raised another $27 million in its series C round. The cash will advance its pipeline of microbiome-derived drugs, including a handful of assets currently in midstage trials. 

Specifically, the capital will bankroll a phase 1/2 trial of VE416 in food allergy, a phase 2 study of VE303 in recurrent C. difficile infection and a phase 1b/2 study of VE800 in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo in advanced or metastatic cancers. The funding comes from the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Rock Springs Capital, Invesco Asset Management, Seventure Partners, and PureTech Health. 

“These new funds, together with our partnerships with Janssen and Bristol-Myers Squibb, will help us advance four programs to clinical endpoints in recurrent C. difficile infection, food allergy, IBD, and several cancer indications,” said Vedanta CEO Bernat Olle, Ph.D., in a statement on Monday. 

Vedanta teamed up with J&J back in 2015 on a new bacterial treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The Big Pharma did not disclose how much it handed over in its upfront payment but promised up to $241 in milestone payments. Vedanta triggered a $12 million payment last month when it started a phase 1 trial of its IBD candidate, VE202. Vedanta and BMS unveiled their clinical trial partnership in early December. 

RELATED: Vedanta pockets $12M from Johnson & Johnson on start of microbiome drug trial 

Founded in 2010, Vedanta is working on treatments made of live bacteria to address imbalances in the gut microbiome that are thought to play a role in many diseases. Its discovery platform identifies “consortia” of bacteria with “drug-like properties” that trigger certain immune responses. 

In IBD, for example, the treatment is designed to dampen the immune response to relieve IBD symptoms. Vedanta’s approach could have advantages over current treatments for IBD, as well as fecal microbiota transplants, which have an inconsistent track record thanks to the variability of their composition.