8 Jun 2020
CIC portfolio company Microbiotica to collaborate with Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University Hospitals in landmark cancer microbiome study
Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), the venture capital investor enabling visionaries to build global, category-leading companies in the Cambridge ecosystem, is pleased to note that its portfolio company Microbiotica, today announced a major collaboration with Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (“CUH”) to identify and develop microbiome co-therapeutics and biomarkers for cancer patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Checkpoint inhibitors have transformed the management of cancer, due to the range of cancers that can be treated and their high levels of efficacy, including complete remission in some cases. However, response rates are low and there is a major unmet need for co-therapies to extend the number of responders and for biomarkers to stratify patients for treatment.
Robert Tansley, Partner at CIC, commented:
“Checkpoint inhibitors including the $10 billion annual revenue product Keytruda have made a significant impact in the outcome in patients with a number of solid tumours. However, typically only 30-50% of patients respond. There is growing evidence that the patients’ microbiome plays a significant role in modulating their immune system determining their ability to respond to immuno-therapies. The collaboration will give Microbiotica access to one of the largest datasets of microbiome and cancer outcome data and will form the basis of a major new discovery program in the field.”
The collaboration is based on clinical studies conducted by CUH that evaluate immune checkpoint inhibitor drug response in cancer patients, combined with Microbiotica’s unrivalled microbiome profiling and analysis capability.
Microbiotica’s platform comprises the world’s leading Reference Genome Database and Culture Collection of gut bacteria, and an unrivalled capability to culture and characterise all gut bacteria from patients at scale. This is complemented by a suite of bioinformatic and machine learning tools that enable the identification of previously undetectable gut bacterial signatures to patient phenotype. The company also has capabilities to develop and take such products to the clinic.
The collaboration will identify specific gut bacterial signatures correlated with drug efficacy and side effects in patients under treatment for melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and renal cancer. From these signatures, Microbiotica will progress live bacterial products as co-therapies and microbiome biomarkers predictive of immunotherapy response and toxicity into the clinic.