Microbiome research and therapeutics firm Commense licensed a live biotherapeutic product for preventing childhood asthma and potentially other childhood allergic diseases from the University of British Columbia (UBC). Developed at UBC by Commense co-founder, B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D., the microbiome therapeutic approach involves the administration of four types of bacteria, Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (known as FLVR), and is founded on the discovery that children with atopy, wheeze, and asthma have experienced a transient imbalance in FLVR during early life. The firm said preclinical models have indicated that FLVR administration reduces signs of respiratory disease, including asthma.

Financial details of the licensing deal were not disclosed. 

The potential protective effects of FLVR in early childhood immune system development and the prevention of asthma could impact on other noninfectious, chronic diseases in children and adults, PureTech believes. Fernando Martinez, M.D., director of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center at the University of Arizona and clinical advisor to Commense, stated, “The impact of using a defined microbial intervention to potentially change the natural course of asthma and prevent many cases of the disease could be profound. The FLVR supplementation approach uses defined gut-derived bacterial consortia against allergy and asthma. If this approach were to be successful, it would be a key step forward.” 

Commense was founded last year by PureTech Health and a group of leading researchers in the field of the human microbiome and its role in infant and maternal health. The firm is working with industry, academia, and physicians to progress early life microbiome research and develop microbiome-based therapies for pediatric populations. PureTech Health says Commense's programs will exploit expertise developed through PureTech Health's Vedanta Biosciences subsidiary. Commense anticipates initiation of human clinical trials in 2019.

The last few months have witnessed a number of microbiome therapy-related deals. During April, Takeda teamed up with NuBiyota to develop microbial consortia products for gastroenterology indications and separately reported negotiating a license to Finch Therapeutics' inflammatory bowel disease candidate. In February, PureTech Health's 75.4%-owned Vedanta subsidiary, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Leiden University teamed up for an R&D collaboraiton focused on the relationship between the gut microbiome and childhood food allergies. Also in February, Irish investment firm Malin took at 32% stake in Yale University spinout Artizan Biosciences, which is developing treatments that target the microbiome. At the start of February, the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute reported a number of research collaborations. And in January, Allergan and Assembly Biosciences inked a $50 million up-front deal for four potential microbiome-focused therapies for gastrointestinal disorders.  

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