AbbVie will use Synlogic’s synthetic biotics platform to develop a new class of medicines to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by blending with the patient’s microbiome. The value of the multi-year global R&D collaboration was not disclosed by Synlogic, which announced the partnership today.

The collaboration is designed to combine Synlogic’s platform and AbbVie’s expertise in metabolic and inflammatory diseases, with goals that include creating and advancing into clinical trials a novel oral probiotic drug candidate. That candidate, according to Synlogic, will be within a class of “synthetic biotics” or engineered probiotic bacteria that perform specific metabolic functions from the gut microbiome in order to correct missing or dysfunctional metabolic activities throughout the body.

In the new collaboration, Synlogic and AbbVie will evaluate candidates with synthetic programmable genetic circuits that work with the patient’s microbiome to perform an undisclosed programmed therapeutic operation involved in IBD. The companies agreed to advance the candidates through preclinical development, with AbbVie overseeing regulatory filings, clinical development, and worldwide marketing of any resulting products.

“Synlogic’s innovative approach to targeting the microbiome offers a new way to address inflammatory bowel disease,” said Jim Sullivan, AbbVie vp of pharmaceutical discovery, in a statement.

Synlogic CEO Jose-Carlos Gutiérrez-Ramos, Ph.D., added that, “This partnership with AbbVie is a part of our overall strategy for enabling the broad potential of our synthetic biotics platform by forging partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology leaders to pursue major disease indications affecting millions of patients, while simultaneously accelerating Synlogic’s internal pipeline in rare orphan diseases toward the clinic.”

Synlogic said its role will include discovering, characterizing, and optimizing synthetic biotics-based drug candidates through an R&D program set to cover “a limited number” of effectors modulating the physiological processes associated with IBD, especially Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease is the indication of a Phase II drug candidate in AbbVie’s current pipeline, the selective JAK1 inhibitor ABT-494. A Phase II trial of ABT-494 in Crohn’s is ongoing, though in September AbbVie reported the candidate met its primary endpoint in two Phase II trials in arthritis patients.

Immunology is one of AbbVie’s six areas of drug development focus: The other five are kidney disease, liver disease, neuroscience, oncology, and women’s health.

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