Finch Therapeutics and Takeda announced last week that the two companies’ collaboration would be expanded to focus on developing a microbiome-based therapeutic for Crohn’s disease.
The agreement builds on a previous deal, which sees the two partners taking a microbiota therapy, FIN-524, through pre-clinical development for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
To discover a potential new treatment alongside Takeda, Finch will utilize its ‘Human-First Discovery’ platform. According to the biotech’s CEO, Mark Smith, this involves “analyzing data from clinical studies that involve the transfer of complete microbial communities from healthy human donors to individuals with the target disease.”
The company is able to use its machine learning-based platform to then identify which strains of bacteria in donors and recipients lead to successful outcomes.
Through its partnership with Takeda, Finch will be responsible for early-stage clinical development of any potential microbiota therapy discovered, with the former company taking on late-stage development and funding the costs throughout.
The microbiome field
The number of ventures and partnerships that have been established looking at developing treatments through the body’s microbiome has gathered pace this year.
Chr. Hansen and Lonza created a joint venture, contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) for the development of live biotherapeutics, while Taconic Biosciences launched TruBiome, a platform that allows researchers to create custom microbiome study animals.
Smith suggested that the area is currently approaching “a key inflection point,” with Finch and at least one other microbiome company expected to release data next year from large-scale, placebo-controlled clinical trials.
“Positive results will validate this therapeutic approach and accelerate the development of the field,” he suggested.
On what therapeutic areas could be targeted by the potential treatment modality, Smith noted that “scientists have found that the microbiome appears to play a role in autism spectrum disorder, the response patients have to cancer therapies, autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, central nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, and even the development of food allergies and obesity.”