Nextbiotix has raised €7 million ($8 million) to develop a bacterial treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases. The series A round will support work to rebalance the gut microbiome through the delivery of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, one of the most abundant species of bacteria in the gut.
Studies have found differences between the populations of F. prausnitzii in the guts of healthy people and people with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. When added to evidence of F. prausnitzii’s effect on NF-κB activation, IL-8 production and other processes linked to inflammatory diseases, the studies have generated interest in the therapeutic possibilities of the bacterium.
Dijon, France-based Nextbiotix is exploring these possibilities. The biotech is developing single microbial strains intended to safely act on immunomodulatory pathways, thereby providing relief to millions of patients.
That prospect caught the attention of Auriga Partners, which led the series A with the support of Sofimac Innovation, Cap Innov’Est, INRA and Biocodex. The syndicate has backed a biotech that is well versed in the therapeutic potential of F. prausnitzii and how to realize it.
Nextbiotix is built on the work of three researchers: Harry Sokol, Philippe Langella and Patrick Gervais. Sokol and Langella were co-authors on the 2008 paper that identified the antiinflammatory effects of F. prausnitzii. Since then, the pair have been involved in a series of papers that have further elucidated the effects of the bacteria. In parallel, Gervais has studied how to tablet the oxygen-sensitive bacteria and keep it alive until it reaches the target site in the large intestine.
Sokol, Langella and Gervais founded Nextbiotix in 2016 with Michael Chekroun and Benjamin Hadida, who serves as CEO. Having worked out of incubators in Paris since then, Nextbiotix is now advancing toward human tests of its bacteria.
“We are delighted to have raised a first round of financing significant enough to support our efforts in bringing a revolutionary new class of medicines, called Live Biotherapeutics, to patients,” Hadida said in a statement.