Recognition of the importance of the microbiome, the body’s trillions of resident bacteria, represents a paradigm-shift in our understanding of its impact on human health and disease. This creates major opportunities in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of disease including enteric infections, autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, cancer and neurological disease.
Microbiotica’s science will be directed by Dr Lawley, who will be Chief Scientific Officer. The company will be led by Dr Mike Romanos who, as Chief Executive Officer, brings a wealth of experience as a seasoned drug discoverer and entrepreneur in the biotech sector. Dr Romanos previously held senior global roles in GSK and as CEO built Crescendo Biologics. Professor Gordon Dougan is also a co-founder. CIC and IP Group will each appoint a director to the board of Microbiotica. The company will use the funds to establish labs within the Wellcome Genome Campus at Hinxton, Cambridge, to progress multiple live bacteriotherapy discovery programmes into development.
Mike Romanos, CEO of Microbiotica, said, “It has been a privilege to work with my co-founders Trevor Lawley and Gordon Dougan to create the concept of Microbiotica as a leading player in microbiome-based therapeutics. We are very excited to be working with CIC and IP Group to now turn the vision into reality as we start to build the company, based at the Wellcome Genome Campus, leveraging the strengths of the Sanger Institute to create new medicines.”
Dr Trevor Lawley, CSO of Microbiotica said, “Our work at the Sanger Institute has shown that the human microbiome is important for health and disease, and is itself a therapeutic target. I am delighted that the establishment of Microbiotica will allow us to harness the therapeutic potential of the complex microbial community in the body to create novel treatments and help improve human health.”
Dr Robert Tansley, Investment Director at CIC, added, “Research into the microbiome is a fascinating area of study with huge commercial potential. We have been working closely with Mike, Trevor, IP Group and the Sanger Institute to ensure that Microbiotica has an excellent foundation and can benefit from the tremendous body of work created by Trevor and his team. With our founding investment in Congenica, the genome discovery and diagnostics company, we have been privileged to be instrumental in the creation of two spin-out companies based on world class research from the Sanger Institute.”
Dr Sam Williams, Head of Biotech at IP Group, said, “We are delighted to be involved in the creation of what promises to be an exciting new commercial approach to the microbiome. By exploring the fundamentals of gut flora distribution and genetics, Microbiotica has an opportunity to take a lead in the understanding how the microbiome can be used to not only develop new therapeutics for a range of diseases, but also how to stratify patients according to their microbial profile, identify links with disease and exploit its full potential for human healthcare. This investment reflects IP Group’s approach to new company formation in the biotech sector, backing only the science which promises to bring about revolutionary approaches to human medicine and the teams that can deliver them.”
Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Sanger Institute, said, “The Wellcome Genome Campus is home to research institutes, spin-out and start-up companies, academic-industry partnerships and Genomics England; all dedicated to driving and leading pioneering research and innovation in the sphere of genomes and biodata. Microbiotica grew out of Sanger Institute science and I’m delighted that Trevor and his team will continue to be immersed in the intellectual environment on campus. The Biodata Innovation Centre and the companies in it is the first major step in our progression of our vision for this Campus as a global hub for genomics and biodata.”