Going with your gut

Second Genome, Janssen Biotech announce microbiome drug discovery agreement

Kelsey Kaustinen
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SAN BRUNO, Calif.—Second Genome, Inc. has announced theestablishment of an agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. for microbiome drugdiscovery, specifically the advancement of novel drug targets for therapeuticmechanisms implicated in ulcerative colitis. Second Genome, which specializesin science of the microbiome—the bacterial ecosystem that lives in the humangut—will apply its microbiome modulation discovery platform to determine therole that bacterial populations play in ulcerative colitis.
Per the terms of the agreement, Janssen will make an upfrontpayment to Second Genome as well as support for research activities SecondGenome will conduct in collaboration with Janssen. Second Genome will also beeligible to receive additional payments if certain research milestones are met.The funding will come from the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center and theImmunology Therapeutic Area within Janssen Research & Development, LLC. Nospecific financial details were disclosed.
"Foundational microbiome research over the past severalyears has demonstrated that alterations to the microbiome are central to thedevelopment of inflammation and metabolic disorders," Peter DiLaura, presidentand CEO at Second Genome, said in a press release. "The role of the microbiomein health and disease has arrived as a significant area of focus inpharmaceutical R&D. This collaboration with Janssen will identifymechanisms by which microbial populations in the gut have an impact inulcerative colitis."
The microbiome consists of a population of more than 100trillion microorganisms that reside in the gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere inand on the human body, and are vital for important biological roles such asdigestion, synthesizing vitamins and nutrients and preventing disease-causingbacteria from taking hold in the body. Second Genome's proprietary approachenables the development of therapeutic candidates that can modulatemicrobe-microbe and microbe-human interactions related to health and disease.
"A breakdown in the normal relationship between the humanimmune system and the bacterial communities that reside in the gut appears toplay an important role in development of the hallmark chronic inflammation ofulcerative colitis," commented Dr. Susan Lynch, scientific advisor to SecondGenome, director of the Colitis and Crohn's Disease Microbiome Research Coreand associate professor of Gastroenterology at University of California, SanFrancisco. "Second Genome has a powerful platform to mine the microbiome forpotential targets which have the potential to translate into effectivetherapeutics that dramatically impact patient health."
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease thatcauses ulcers in the lining of the large intestine (specifically the colon andrectum). Next to Crohn's disease, it is one of the main forms of inflammatorybowel disease, and according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America,as many as 700,000 Americans may suffer from this condition.
SOURCE: Second Genome press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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