Five more years
Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Karolinska Institutet extend microbiome partnership
SAINT-PREX, Switzerland—In hopes of building on their momentum, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and the Karolinska Institutet have extended their collaboration by five years. The collaboration is focused on the impact of the human microbiome in reproductive medicine, women's health and gastroenterology.
“This innovative public-private partnership demonstrates our ongoing, shared commitment to investigating the human microbiome,” Lars Engstrand, professor at Karolinska Institutet and director of the Center for Translational Microbiome Research, said in a press release. “It will support the expansion of Karolinska Institutet’s foundation of robust biological data and drive our understanding of the microbiome’s impact on important reproductive and gut health challenges.”
With this extension, Ferring and Karolinska Institutet will conduct six clinical studies focused on reproductive health, enrolling roughly 6,000 women and infants, and four studies of gastroenterology, which will see to enroll roughly 3,000 children and adults. The partners are hoping to determine what role the microbiome plays in areas of unmet need such as recurrent lost pregnancies, preterm births and inflammatory bowel disease. As approximately 5 percent of couples deal with recurrent pregnancy loss and some 15 million babies are born preterm annually, there is a great deal of need for identifying new ways to combat these issues.
“The extension of this partnership presents an exciting research opportunity, bringing together unique capabilities of Ferring, Karolinska Institutet and Rebiotix across the clinical development continuum in the mircrobiome space,” said Lee Jones, founder, president an CEO of Rebiotix Inc., which was acquired by Ferring in 2018. “This, together with Ferring’s significant experience in reproductive medicine and gastroenterology, offers the potential to drive future research and development for the next generation of microbiome treatments needed to help more people build healthy families and live better lives.”
This is far from the only partnering news for Ferring in this research area in the past few months. In October, the company announced that it would be launching a strategic research alliance with Evotec AG. The partners will collaborate to discover and develop small-molecule therapies for fertility issues and gynecological conditions. Evotec will leverage its drug discovery platform in this effort, and a press release noted that Evotec will receive research funding and milestone payments, though specific amounts were not disclosed.
Per Falk, chief science officer at Ferring, said of the alliance that “To achieve leadership in reproductive medicine and women’s health, we are expanding beyond our historical expertise in peptides and tackling molecular targets that are best addressed using small-molecule therapeutics. Evotec is a highly regarded company in this field, and this alliance offers the prospect of significant innovation for patients. Together, we have the potential to make a difference for both men and women who are struggling to start a family, and for women suffering from gynecological conditions.”
Two months prior to that, Ferring shared news of a genomics collaboration with Celmatix that will explore ovarian biology, specifically how and why women respond differently to ovarian stimulation in in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Financial details were not released, but the companies intend to apply Celmatix's proprietary offerings—which include the Fertilome test, a multigene test panel that looks at how a woman's DNA impacts her reproductive health, and Polaris, a real-time predictive analysis platform currently used by fertility clinics—as they explore whether genomic differences impact a woman's response to IVF.
“The demographic trends are clear that people are increasingly waiting until later in life to become parents. Accordingly, advanced fertility technologies like egg freezing and IVF are on the rise in the U.S. and globally. It is more important than ever to understand how a woman's unique biology may impact her response to the treatments used for these procedures,” remarked Piraye Yurttas Beim, Celmatix's founder and CEO. “It’s inspiring to collaborate with a forward-thinking company like Ferring that is committed to bridging this knowledge gap and bringing greater personalization to women’s health.”