Vedanta, NYU aim for microbiome-based cancer immunotherapies

Vedanta Biosciences has partnered with the NYU Langone Medical Center to develop microbiome-derived immunotherapies specifically for use paired with checkpoint inhibitors. The idea is to use the microbiome to help improve the efficacy of this major developing class of oncology drugs as well as, potentially, for standalone use to treat cancer.

The news comes after the PureTech Health-founded company raised $50 million earlier this summer to advance microbiome therapeutics into the clinic during the first half of next year to treat undisclosed infectious and autoimmune diseases.

The oncologists in the collaboration will be led by Dr. Jeffrey Weber, who is the deputy director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone.

“Dr. Weber is a pioneer in translational research, particularly in immunotherapy and the development of checkpoint inhibitors,” said Vedanta CSO Bruce Roberts in a statement. “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.”

This foray specifically to extend its reach into oncology comes just as microbiome therapeutics research has hit an early snag. Competitor Seres Therapeutics ($MCRB) failed in a recent Phase II test of an oral microbiome therapeutic, SER-109, to reduce the risk of Clostridium difficile infection, a much more obviously microbiome-related indication.

The NYU deal specifically explores the mechanisms by which the gut microbiome influences checkpoint inhibitor efficacy in cancer treatment. The expectation is that human gut bacteria can be used to create immunotherapies, based on work including a recent publication in the scientific journal Cell by Vedanta co-founder Dr. Kenya Honda.

“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 Weber in the statement. “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.”

- here is the release

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