PureTech Health, a clinical-stage biotherapeutics firm, has announced its Vedanta Biosciences founded entity has landed a $25m (20.6 EUR) investment as part of the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative (PGBI). Vedanta plans to use the money to fund its Phase II study of VE202 to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), scheduled to launch in 2021.
A Vedanta spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma that, “We see this investment as valuable external validation of Vedanta’s approach to microbiome drug development, which we hope this will be the beginning of a fruitful partnership between Vedanta and Pfizer. The investment enables us to move aggressively with Phase II plans.”
As part of the deal, Michael Vincent (chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s Inflammation and Immunology Research Unit) will join Vedanta’s scientific advisory board. Vincent pointed out IBD seriously impacts the approximately 1.6m Americans diagnosed with the disease, a number that is on the rise.
“Patients urgently need new therapeutic options,” Vincent commented. “We believe Vedanta’s approach to modulating the microbiome may hold promise for people living with IBD, and we are excited for its potential as this important study moves forward.”
VE202, the Vedanta spokesperson explained, is a consortium of multiple strains of bacteria designed to be a safe, oral approach to treating inflammatory bowel disease. Mechanisms of action include:
- restoring a healthy microbial community by decolonizing “bad actors” like Enterobacteraceae
- restoring the health and function of the intestinal epithelium
- inducing regulatory T cells and an overall tolerogenic environment in the intestine.
The company reports that topline Phase I study data indicated VE202 was shown to be safe and well tolerated at all dose levels, demonstrating durable and dose-dependent colonization.
Through its PBGI, Pfizer plans to funnel up to $500b (411.8b EUR), as well as access to its technical resources and expertise, into biotechnology companies with technology demonstrating clinical promise. In addition to the Vedanta funding, Pfizer to date has made the following investments in clinical-stage firms:
- Boston-based genetic medicines firm Homology Medicines received $60m (49.4m EUR) to fund treatments for rare diseases; Seng Cheng (chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s Rare Disease Research Unit) also has joined Homology’s scientific advisory board.
- Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Trillium Therapeutics, aimmune-oncology company, received $25m (20.6m EUR) to develop innovative cancer therapies; Jeff Settleman (senior vice president and chief scientific officer Pfizer’s Oncology Research & Development Group) was named to Trillium’s Scientific Advisory Board.
- Vancouver, British Columbia-based ESSA Pharma, received $10m (8.2m EUR) to fund development of novel prostate cancer treatments.
The Vedanta spokesperson added that the firm intends to use the Phase II study is a proof-of-concept trial; no additional detail on trial design is currently available.