PARIS—Enterome SA, a pioneer of innovative therapies for microbiome-related diseases, and Nestlé Health Science (NHSc), announced recently the creation of Microbiome Diagnostics Partners (MDP). MDP will bring together complementary platforms and capabilities enabling the discovery and development of innovative diagnostics through to commercialization in multiple disease areas, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and liver diseases.
According to Dr. Pierre Belichard, CEO of Enterome, “Our partnership [with Nestlé Health Science] started when NHSc became a strategic investor in Enterome’s Series B funding in 2016. NHSc was attracted by Enterome’s recognized expertise in identifying novel biomarkers of human disease from the microbiome. Enterome’s approach is based on complete genetic and functional analysis of the microbiome comparing between healthy subjects and patients, and in patients at various stages of progressive disease. Thanks to its two metagenomics platforms, Enterome is able to identify gut microbiome changes involved in disease development, which makes the company an ideal partner for the development of novel and innovative diagnostics.”
“Nestlé Health Science had already stepped into the microbiome field through a significant participation in Seres Therapeutics (live bacteria therapeutic approach) when [NHSc and Enterome] met together. They were willing to diversify their investments in the microbiome field and also reinforce and broaden the scope of the diagnostic activities of their affiliate Prometheus,” Belichard continues. “A joint venture structure looked like the optimal way to speed up the two lead projects currently prioritized in MDP (Crohn’s disease and NASH biomarkers), and to take advantage of the existing synergies of Enterome’s and Prometheus discovery results.”
MDP is a 50-50 joint venture between Enterome and NHSc. Enterome contributes its current microbiome diagnostic programs and intellectual property derived from its unique microbiome-based platform for the development of diagnostics in all therapeutic areas except immuno-oncology. Prometheus Laboratories (a NHSc company) will contribute its diagnostics development and commercialization expertise.
Nestlé Health Science plans to invest €20 million in return for its 50-percent stake in MDP, and exclusive commercialization options on initial programs. In addition, MDP will receive further milestone payments linked to the success of clinical and commercial activities. MDP will be governed by a board, with Belichard becoming chairman. Warren Cresswell, general manager and head of Prometheus Diagnostics, will become a board member of MDP and assume the role of MDP CEO.
“MDP is equipped to lead diagnostic discovery in the microbiome field, opening the door to innovative therapeutic approaches combining diagnostics, nutritional therapies and therapeutics. 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,” said Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science.
“Initially, MDP will focus on developing diagnostics for the assessment and management of IBD based on Enterome’s IBD110 microbiome-derived biomarker that provide an indication of the state of mucosal healing in Crohn’s patients and informs decisions on treatment options, and on the development of diagnostic products for progressive liver diseases [like NAFLD and NASH] based on Enterome’s MET210 biomarker,” says Belichard. Prometheus will provide its serum-based biomarkers to both development programs.
The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in building up an individual’s natural immunity and maintaining good health. The recent progress in metagenomic science has propelled awareness from the medical community on this underestimated human organ to a point that is making the study of the gut microbiome a health priority in most westernized countries, and a major opportunity to create a new generation of drugs and diagnostics.
“Thanks to the latest scientific research, the microbiome space is becoming bigger and opportunities numerous,” Belichard tells DDNews. “As a result, [Enterome’s] strategy has evolved to focus on therapeutic applications, which we are doing via EB8018 (Crohn’s) and EO2315 (I/O), and leveraging the potential value of our platform in diagnostics (via this partnership) into a more focused and better equipped organization, which can generate more innovative products that have the potential to hit the market quickly and provide patients with better outcomes and management of their disease.”
“The goal of this joint venture is to develop better diagnostic products that provide more accurate information and are convenient to use. The diagnostic products in development at MDP could include fecal- and serum-based diagnostics together or separately, depending on the condition,” adds Belichard. “In addition to Enterome’s expertise in identifying novel microbiome biomarkers, Prometheus is a leading diagnostic company in the GI space, commercializing a portfolio of 14 tests in the IBD and liver diseases indications.”
Understanding the mechanisms of disease processes associated with dysfunction of the microbiome is central to Enterome’s discovery platform. By gaining deep knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that govern the dynamic interplay between microbial communities and host system, Enterome says they can unlock meaningful insights into the pathogenesis of disease, enabling rational strategies for therapeutic and diagnostic interventions.
“[At Enterome] we are currently running Phase 1 trials with our lead IBD product EB8018 and planning ahead to prepare for the launch of our Phase 2a clinical study in 2018, as well as entering our oncology lead product EO2315 in clinical development, also expected in 2018. Our long-term strategy is to extend our expertise in developing microbiome-based therapeutics in these and other indications, such as autoimmune disease,” Belichard concludes.