Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Awards Funding to Vedanta for New Microbiome-Derived Therapeutic Program

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Awards Funding to Vedanta for New Microbiome-Derived Therapeutic Program

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has granted Vedanta Biosciences funding for its new microbiome-derived therapeutic program for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This program aims to develop therapeutics by using information regarding the gut’s bacterial and microorganism population — collectively referred to as the microbiome — in IBD patients.

“As the first commercial organization to be awarded funding under the auspices of the Foundation’s newly-launched Entrepreneurial Investing Initiative, we are excited about the potential of Vedanta’s research to bring microbiome-derived therapies to our patients,” Michael Osso, president and CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, said in a press release.

The company is collaborating with Kenya Honda, MD, PhD, a professor at Keio University School of Medicine in Japan and a scientific co-founder of Vedanta. Honda has done groundbreaking work in studies involving the gut microbiome.

For example, in a study, titled “Ectopic colonization of oral bacteria in the intestine drives TH1 cell induction and inflammation” and published in ScienceHonda’s research group demonstrated that the bacterial species Klebsiella pneumoniae is harmful and activates a pro-inflammatory state by triggering T helper 1 cells — a type of immune cell — in the gut. This leads to the onset of intestinal inflammation and eventually to the development of IBD.

“Foundation-led research has helped to determine that the gut microbiome is a key link between genetic susceptibility and the onset and progression of IBD. Vedanta’s pioneering work has promise to advance discoveries in this area toward new therapeutic options for patients with IBD,” Osso said.

In particular, research conducted by Vedanta has led to the identification of a group of beneficial gut bacteria that can actually target and help reduce the Klebsiella population.

“Dr. Honda’s research suggests an entirely new approach to help IBD patients by specific elimination of pro-inflammatory bacteria. We believe this approach could potentially be harnessed to both treat IBD as well as intercept the progression of the disease in its early stages or before diagnosis,” said Bernat Olle, PhD, Vedanta’s co-founder and CEO.

Vedanta has also partnered with Janssen Biotech Inc. to develop treatment candidate VE202 for IBD. VE202 is designed to either replenish or reactivate a type of immune cell called regulatory T-cells, which help the body control and reduce inflammation. VE202 is expected to enter the clinic in the second half of 2018.

Massachusetts-based Vedanta Biosciences, an affiliate of PureTech Health, is focused on the development of new therapies for immunological and infectious diseases based on groupings of human microbiome-derived bacteria.