Second Genome taps Mayo Clinic as microbiome partner

The organizations will investigate the effects of the microbiome on diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic disorders and colorectal cancer

Kelsey Kaustinen
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Second Genome Inc. and the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine have begun an extensive partnership to support the development of therapeutic products for a variety of diseases, beginning with inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic disorders and colorectal cancer.
 
“The microbiome is an important area of medical research for Mayo Clinic, and this collaboration represents a broad and significant effort in our attempt to develop therapeutics targeting microbiome-mediated pathways,” Heidi Nelson, M.D., director of the Microbiome Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, said in a press release. “We believe that Second Genome’s drug discovery capability complements our clinical expertise, and our hope is that together we can develop new treatment approaches for patients across a wide range of diseases with significant unmet clinical need. The ultimate goal is to improve the lives of patients.”
 
Per the terms of the agreement, Second Genome will identify up to eight clinical indications in which the microbiome might play a role in disease and collaborate on microbiome research with Mayo Clinic scientists specializing in each of the selected disease areas. For its part, Mayo Clinic will provide human clinical samples from patients in the chosen disease areas, and Second Genome will utilize its proprietary microbiome discovery platform to determine the biological pathways implicated in the diseases and to identify novel therapies that can target those pathways. Though no specific financial details were disclosed, it was announced that Mayo Clinic will be making an equity investment in Second Genome in conjunction with this collaboration.
 
“The importance of the microbiome in a wide range of diseases is increasingly obvious,” Second Genome CEO Peter B. DiLaura commented in a statement. “Applying microbiome science to novel therapeutic approaches requires a robust platform for understanding the mechanisms of interaction between microbiome and host biology, coupled with deep clinical expertise. We believe that the combined expertise of Second Genome and the world-class clinicians and researchers at Mayo Clinic will accelerate our ability to discover and develop new transformative therapies that improve the lives of patients.”
 
This is the second microbiome-focused agreement Second Genome has made in the last five months. In early May, the company announced that it had established an agreement with Pfizer Inc. to research the microbiome in a large observational study to gain new insight into obesity and metabolic diseases. The study will seek to evaluate the microbiome and several clinical factors in roughly 900 people with different metabolic phenotypes to elucidate the connection between the microbiome, obesity and metabolic issues.
 
Recent research has found evidence that the microbiome is linked to metabolic processes, with changes in the microbiome implicated in conditions such as obesity or type 2 diabetes. Additionally, microbiome transplant studies have shown that introducing certain microbes can alter the microbiome to encourage weight loss or gain.
 
“Understanding the complex set of interactions between the gut microbes in obese and non-obese individuals is critical to our research in metabolic disease, a key area of focus at Pfizer,” Barbara Sosnowski, vice president of External R&D Innovation at Pfizer, said in a press release announcing that partnership. “Our relationship with Second Genome, a leading company in the rapidly growing microbiome field, may enable us to expand our knowledge in whole body metabolism, with a goal to better understand obesity.”

Kelsey Kaustinen

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