Finch, Takeda to Jointly Develop Microbiome Therapeutic for Ulcerative Colitis

Finch, Takeda to Jointly Develop Microbiome Therapeutic for Ulcerative Colitis

Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical and Boston-based Finch Therapeutics will jointly develop the drug FIN-524 to treat ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

FIN-524 is Finch’s first microbiotic product candidate. The company says its live biotherapeutic product consists of cultured bacteria strains, and is based on a rationally designed, synthetic ecology of microbes. FIN-524 is now in the pre-clinical research stage.

The new collaboration melds Finch’s proprietary discovery platform with Takeda’s muscle in gastrointestinal (GI) drug development to speed advancement of a new class of microbial therapy for IBD. In the 1990s, Takeda pioneered development of proton pump inhibitors, and more recently its global reach has expanded into the gastroenterology and biologics specialty care market, with a focus on ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

“Takeda’s deep GI expertise and recent success in bringing therapies to IBD patients complements our own expertise in microbiome engineering,” Finch CEO Mark Smith, Ph.D,, said in a press release. “Our human-first discovery platform uses data from successful clinical experiences with fecal transplants to design novel microbiome therapeutics for IBD and other diseases. Working with Takeda, we are well-positioned to bring a potentially transformative and scalable new therapy to patients.”

Under terms of the collaboration, Takeda will make pay $10 million to Finch — a startup founded by data scientists, clinicians and microbiologists from MIT and OpenBiome. That’ll give the Tokyo-based giant exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize FIN-524 and any follow-on products for treating IBD. Finch, in turn, will be eligible for development, regulatory and commercial financial milestones, as well as tiered worldwide net sales royalties. Finch and Takeda may extend their agreement to other collaborations on similar terms.

“We partner with the most innovative scientists and companies in GI research to speed the discovery and development of new therapeutic options for patients with GI diseases,”  said Gareth Hicks, Ph.D., who heads gastroenterology drug discovery for Takeda. “The truly innovative approach to therapeutic design established by Finch and the foundation of clinical evidence underlying FIN-524 make us excited to be working with our new partners in this rapidly developing field of medicine.”