Ferring Pharmaceuticals will partner with Intralytix on its early-stage development program for a bacteriophage-based therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the companies said today.  The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

Intralytix will assist it in formulating and manufacturing bacteriophages for use in clinical trials, which are expected to begin as soon as 2016.

The collaboration builds on earlier research in which Ferring, Intralytix, and the Institut Pasteur developed a combination of bacteriophages specifically designed to target adherent and invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) strains found in Crohn’s disease patients.

“Bacteriophages offer a unique tool to gently fine-tune the gut microbiota by specifically targeting problem-causing bacteria without disturbing the normal, and often beneficial, gut microflora,” Alexander Sulakvelidze, vp for R&D and CSO of Intralytix, said in a statement.

Earlier, Ferring collaborated with the University of Lille, University of Auvergne, and DigestScience, a foundation dedicated to research on digestive diseases, to explore the possibility that bacteriophages could be used to combat AIEC in IBD patients.

The IBD treatment is one of two human therapeutic products in development. One of Intralytix’s prototype phage preparations for treating infected wounds was successfully used in a Phase I human clinical trial, but is not yet available for clinical applications.

According to its website, Intralytix plans to develop several additional products for human therapeutics but does not currently produce any phage-based commercial preparations for human therapy.