French gut microbiome analysis specialist Enterome Bioscience SA and therapeutic nutrition company Nestlé Health Science have formed a 50:50 joint venture aimed at developing microbiome-based diagnostics for certain common diseases.
The JV dubbed Microbiome Diagnostics Partners (MDP) will initially focus its development activities on diagnostic metagenomic signatures of the gut microbiome that reflect inflammatory activity in Morbus Crohn, ulcerative colitis and obesity-related inflammatory liver diseases such as NASH or NAFLD for which the French company has biomarkers in place. Enterome exclusively licenced its metagenomic discovery platform, which identifes bacterial imbalances in the microbiotica affecting prognosis and responsiveness to drugs, and its existing biomarker portfolio to MDP, except those partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb for ipilimumab responsiveness (Bacteroides-based) and further undisclosed biomarkers for cancer immunotherapies.
Nestlé Health Science will have the exclusive right to opt for commercialisation of all biomarkers developed by MDP. The Swiss subsidiary of nutrition giant Nestlé SA had already contributed €14m to Enterome’s Series C financing round before investing €20m into the new JV. Nestlé Health Science will finance milestone-based development of MDP’s IBD biomarker IBD110, which measures inflammatory activity of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and is prognostic for mucosal healing. Furthermore, the company will fund the development of diagnostic gut microbiome gene signatures for inflammatory, obesity-related liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, (NAFLD) and NASH non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. With MET210, MDP has already a NASH biomarker in its portfolio. Nestlé Health Science’s subsidiary Prometheus Laboratories (San Diego) will provide its serum-based biomarkers to both development programmes. The company has a biomarker that measures both serum drug concentrations and antidrug antibody levels of Takeda’s IBD drug vedolizumab from a single serum sample. Additionally, Prometheus markets a serum test that helps identify the likelihood liver fibrosis in hepatitis C patients.
MDP will be governed by a Board, with Pierre Belichard, CEO of Enterome 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.
Pierre Belichard, CEO of Enterome, said the the formation of MDP will help Enterome to remain focussed on ist core business, „discovery of novel small molecule therapeutics.”
Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science said: “MDP is equipped to lead diagnostic discovery in the microbiome field, opening the door to innovative therapeutic approaches combining diagnostics (Dx), nutritional therapies (Nx) and therapeutics (Rx).“ The company’s business is to advance the therapeutic role of nutrition.
Enterome did not report, how the licence transfer will affect its established partnerships with Johnson & Johnson Innovation/Janssen Biotech, Takeda and Abbvie in inflammatory bowel and gastro-intestinal diseases.