France’s Enterome and Switzerland’s Nestlé Health Science have jointly established Microbiome Diagnostics Partners (MDP), a new company created to discover and develop innovative diagnostics for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), liver disease and other illnesses.
The gut microbiome, or the community of microorganisms that live in human guts, plays a critical role in building up a person’s natural immunity and maintaining good health. The recent progress in metagenomics science — or the study of genetic material directly obtained from environmental samples — has propelled awareness of this underestimated human organ and has made it a health priority of Western medicine.
“MDP is equipped to lead diagnostic discovery in the microbiome field, opening the door to innovative therapeutic approaches combining diagnostics, nutritional therapies and therapeutics,” Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science, said in a press release. “Mastering the microbiome is an important facet of our strategy to advance the therapeutic role of nutrition and we see also new opportunities being created for personalized nutrition, both for the healthy population and for patients. The two initial programs have great potential to become differentiated diagnostics.”
Initially, MDP will develop diagnostics to assess and manage IBD, based on Enterome’s IBD110 microbiome-derived mucosal healing biomarker. MDP will also develop diagnostic products for progressive liver diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) based on Enterome’s MET210 biomarker.
Central to Enterome’s discovery platform is the ability to decode which mechanisms are responsible for diseases linked to dysfunctions of the microbiome. A better understanding of why molecular mechanisms govern certain dynamic interplays between microbial communities and host systems may lead to novel insights into the course of IBD — unlocking potential new strategies for treatment and diagnosis.
“The MDP joint venture will leverage Enterome’s microbiome-based platforms in diagnostic areas, while Enterome will continue to focus on their application for the discovery of novel small molecule therapeutics,” said Pierre Belichard, Enterome’s CEO, noting that this isn’t the first time Enterome joins other companies and researchers to develop new microbiome-related products.
In January 2016, Enterome partnered with Janssen Biotech and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research to discover new gut microbiome targets and bioactive molecules for people with Crohn’s disease. That alliance aims to characterize and therapeutically validate these bacterial products, and oncrease knowledge on the regulation of gut homeostasis and immunity, which could potentially lead to the new therapies for Crohn’s disease.