Takeda is paying Finch Therapeutics $10 million upfront for exclusive, global rights to develop and commercialize the latter’s inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) candidate, FIN-524, together with rights to follow-on products for IBD indications.

Under terms of the deal, Finch will be eligible for undisclosed development, regulatory, and commercialization milestones, plus future tiered royalties. The firms have written-in the option to extend their collaboration to other, related indications.

FIN-524 is a live microbial cocktail that Massachusetts-based Finch is taking through preclinical development for treating ulcerative colitis. The candidate has been developed using the firm’s human-first discovery platform, which uses machine learning algorithms to analysis clinical datasets from ulcerative colitis patients who have undergone fecal transplantation, and identify promising therapeutic strains.

Commenting on the deal for FIN-524, Gareth Hicks, Ph.D., head of gastroenterology drug discovery for Takeda, said, “We partner with the most innovative scientists and companies in GI research to speed the discovery and development of new therapeutic options for patients with GI diseases. The truly innovative approach to therapeutic design established by Finch and the foundation of clinical evidence underlying FIN-524 make us excited to be working with our new partners in this rapidly developing field of medicine.”

“Takeda’s deep GI expertise and recent success in bringing therapies to IBD patients complements our own expertise in microbiome engineering,” added Mark Smith, Ph.D., Finch CEO. “Our human-first discovery platform uses data from successful clinical experiences with fecal transplants to design novel microbiome therapeutics for IBD and other diseases. Working with Takeda, we’re well-positioned to bring a potentially transformative and scalable new therapy to patients.”

Last month, Finch teamed up with the public stool bank, OpenBiome, for development of its lead orally administered microbial candidate, FIN-403, as a treatment for recurrent C. difficile infections. FIN-403 is an encapsulated microbiota therapy built around the firm’s Aquashell formulation technology, and Intract Pharma’s Phloral colon-targeting drug delivery technology, which Finch licensed from  the U.K.-based firm in January. Finch aims to launch a Phase II study with FIN-403 during Q2 2017.

During February, microbiome therapeutics firm Vedanta and the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute separately reported new collaborations focused on gut microbiome research and the development of microbiome therapeutics.

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