With the microbiome playing a role in a broad array of diseases, creating diagnostic tools can provide both a census of the microbiome as well as characterizing a patient’s metagenome. That is exactly the path that Paris-based Enterome Bioscience is taking. The company currently develops personal medical tests and companion diagnostics with the goal of aiding in both the development of drugs for, and the treatment of, metabolic, gastrointestinal, and autoimmune diseases.
According to Pierre Belichard, Enterome CEO, the gut microbiome consists of around 600 species of bacteria. One of the interesting early findings by the two-year-old company was that people suffering from obesity showed a microbiome that is shrunk by around 30 percent. “For diagnostics, we can look at the number of genes and say to people that you had a problem in the early days of your life and you have a shrunken microbiome; then we will define this and start something that is like a stratification tool for people having the same disease, but the disease does not behave the same,” said Belichard.
A second potential diagnostic would be used for monitoring the microbiome and how it is responding to medication for an infectious disease. With an infectious disease the microbiome is constantly changing, Belichard noted, and these changes can eventually help guide clinicians in how they approach treatment.
In addition, via its research and focus on the gut biome, Enterome has identified potential targets that will aid in drug discovery research and development. According to Martin, this focus could serve Enterome well in the long run as research has shown that antibiotics given early in life has a major impact on the gut microbiota, and a healthy microbiome is known to be a major player in immunity.
“I think there are associations (with diseases) based on the absence or presence of certain organisms in the gut and various disorders, but very few of those have been proven,” said Martin. “That’s an opportunity for very targeted bactericidal agents that we happen to be building and many are based on the immunity system. So I think that may be the biggest opportunity—to influence the immunity system by manipulating the gut microbiome.”