With Yale Tech and $12M, Artizan Aims for Root Cause of Gut Disease

肠道疾病疗法公司Artizan完成1200万美元融资,计划两年内开展人体试验

2019-06-11 18:08:00 Xconomy

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A number of startups are targeting the gut microbiome as a way to potentially treat disease, but identifying specific microbes at the root of illness is a challenge. Although software that analyzes troves of biological data helps, the trillions of gut microbes make the research like looking for a needle in a haystack, says James Rosen, CEO of Artizan Biosciences. “What our technology does is make that haystack smaller,” he says. Artizan aims to turn its research about disease-causing microbes into a pipeline of new microbiome drugs. On Monday, the New Haven, CT, company announced it completed a Series A round of financing, bringing its total venture capital haul to $12 million. Rosen says his company could start human testing within two years. The Artizan technology identifies problem microbes by searching for immunoglobulin A. This antibody, which plays a role in immune response, is found in mucus. It also coats some microbes in the gut—microbes that cause some gastrointestinal disorders, according to Artizan’s research. The Artizan technology comes from Yale University, where it was developed in the laboratory of Richard Flavell, a professor of immunobiology and the former chief scientific officer of Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB). In 2016, the Yale research reached a point where it could become the basis for a company, Rosen says. Hatteras Venture Partners, the Durham, NC, venture capital firm where Flavell is also a member of the scientific advisory board, assembled the investor group that backed Artizan with an initial $5 million and brought on Rosen, a veteran venture capitalist, as CEO. The Yale technology is available for research purposes, but Rosen says Artizan holds an exclusive license to use it to develop drugs. Artizan’s first disease target is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disorder characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. IBD affects an estimated 3 million US adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, and antibiotics. When drugs and changes to lifestyle and diet don’t work, some patients choose surgery. Other companies have researched microbiome drugs for IBD. In 2014, South San Francisco-based Second Genome started out targeting Crohn’s disease, a form of IBD that can occur anywhere along the digestive tract. The company later shifted its lead drug’s focus to ulcerative colitis, a form of IBD affecting the colon. The drug is now being tested as a potential treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a liver disorder. Second Genome’s experimental drug is a small molecule. Several other microbiome startups are developing formulations of microbes that come from healthy human donors. These “bugs as drugs” are intended to restore a patient’s gut microbiome to a healthy balance. One company taking this approach is Whole Biome, which formulates capsules containing microbes lacking in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, the San Francisco company’s product is a “medical food,” not a drug. Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB) of Cambridge, MA, has advanced its experimental treatment for ulcerative colitis to mid-stage testing. But the industry and regulators still lack experience with bugs as drugs, and that has led to setbacks. Three years ago, Seres drug SER-109 failed a Phase 2 study in Clostridium difficile infection, a type of gut infection. Although the FDA later gave the company the go-ahead to try again with another study, that drug has yet to be submitted to the FDA for review. Vedanta Biosciences, another Cambridge biotech that researches microbiome therapies made from live bacteria, has advanced its experimental C. diff drug to mid-stage testing. Rosen says it’s too early to say what type of drug an Artizan IBD therapy will be, but he notes that the company is steering clear of the bugs as drugs approach. Instead, he says Artizan plans to develop small molecules, antibodies, and vaccines—drugs that have well-established regulatory pathways that should ideally avoid setbacks, such as the Seres clinical trial failure. If Artizan’s approach works, the company will need more than one drug to treat IBD. The gut microbiome varies from one person to another, and it can change depending on factors that include environment and diet. Rosen says Artizan’s research so far has identified bacteria that are consistently causing IBD in 20 percent of patients. By continuing to identify bacteria that cause IBD, Rosen says he hopes Artizan can develop treatments for a greater percentage of IBD patients. He adds that the company’s technology has the potential to apply to other gastrointestinal diseases, as well as disorders affecting nearby organs, such as the liver. With the close of the latest financing, Artizan has relocated its headquarters from Durham to New Haven’s Science Park. Besides Hatteras, Artizan’s investors include Malin, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Osage University Partners, and Elm Street Ventures. The startup also has a partnership with Brii Biosciences, a Durham, NC, company that is developing therapies for the Chinese market. The partnership, which encompasses up to three programs stemming from Aritzan’s research, gives Brii an equity stake in Artizan. Photo by Flickr user Johan Wieland published via a Creative Commons license.
许多初创企业将肠道微生物作为治疗疾病的一种方法,但在疾病的根源上识别特定的微生物是一项挑战。Artizan Biosciences 首席执行官詹姆斯•罗森( James Rosen )表示,尽管分析生物数据的软件有所帮助,但数万亿肠道微生物的研究就像在干草堆里寻找针头一样。 “我们的技术所做的是让海泡变小,”他说。 Artisan 的目标是将其对引起疾病的微生物的研究变成一系列新的微生物药物。周一, CT 公司 New Haven 宣布完成了一轮 A 轮融资,使其风险投资总额达到1200万美元。罗森说他的公司可以在两年内开始人体测试。 Artizan 技术通过寻找免疫球蛋白 A 来识别问题微生物,这种抗体在黏液中起着免疫应答的作用。根据 Artzan 的研究,它还会在肠道中诱导一些微生物——导致某些胃肠疾病的微生物。 Artisan 技术来自耶鲁大学,它是由免疫生物学教授、百健(Biogen)前首席科学官 RichardFlavell 实验室开发的( NASDAQ : BIIB )。罗森说,2016年,耶鲁大学的研究达到了可以成为公司基础的程度。哈特拉斯风险投资公司( Hatteras Venture Partners )是北卡罗来纳州达勒姆的一家风险投资公司,弗拉韦尔也是该公司的科学顾问委员会成员。该公司组建了一个投资者小组,为 Artizan 提供了500万美元的初始资金支持,并聘请资深风险投资家罗森担任首席执行官。耶鲁大学的技术可以用于研究目的,但罗森说, Artizan 拥有开发药物的独家许可。 Artisan 的第一个疾病目标是炎症性肠病( IBD ),一种以消化道慢性炎症为特征的疾病。根据疾病控制和预防中心的数据, IBD 影响了大约300万美国成年人。目前的治疗方法包括抗炎药物、免疫系统抑制剂和抗生素。当药物和生活方式的改变和饮食不起作用时,一些病人选择手术。 其他公司已经为 IBD 研究了微生物药物。2014年,总部位于旧金山的 SecondGenome 开始针对克罗恩病,这是一种可在消化道任何地方发生的 IBD 。该公司后来将其主要药物的重点转向溃疡性结肠炎,一种影响结肠的 IBD 形式。该药物目前正被检测为非酒精性脂肪性肝炎( NASH )的潜在治疗方法,一种肝脏疾病。 第二基因组的实验药物是一个小分子。其他几家微生物创业公司正在开发由健康的人类捐赠者提供的微生物配方。这些“微生物作为药物”旨在使病人的肠道微生物恢复健康平衡。采用这种方法的一家公司是全Biome 公司,该公司开发的胶囊含有2型糖尿病患者缺乏的微生物。然而,这家旧金山公司的产品是“医疗食品”,而不是药品。 马萨诸塞州剑桥市的血清疗法( NASDAQ : MCRB )已将溃疡性结肠炎的实验治疗推进到中期试验。但该行业和监管机构仍缺乏药品等 bug 方面的经验,这导致了挫折。三年前, Seres 药物 SER-109在艰难梭状芽胞杆菌感染(一种肠道感染)的二期研究中失败。虽然 FDA 后来给了该公司一次试验,以另一项研究,该药物尚未提交给 FDA 审查。剑桥的另一家生物技术公司 Vedanta Biosciences 研究了由活菌制成的微生物组疗法,该公司将其实验性的 C . diff 药物推进到中期测试。 Rosen 说现在说一种 Artizan IBD 疗法的药物类型还为时过早,但他指出,随着药物的普及,该公司正着手清除病毒。相反,他说, Artisan 计划开发小分子、抗体和疫苗,这些药物具有成熟的调节途径,最好避免挫折,如塞勒斯临床试验失败。 如果 Artisan 的方法奏效,公司将需要一种以上的药物来治疗 IBD 。肠道微生物群因人而异,它可以根据环境和饮食等因素而改变。Rosen 说, Artisan 的研究到目前为止已经发现了20%的患者持续产生 IBD 的细菌。罗森说,通过继续鉴定导致 IBD 的细菌,他希望 Artizan 能够为更多的 IBD 患者开发治疗方法。他补充说,该公司的技术有可能应用于其他胃肠道疾病,以及影响邻近器官的疾病,如肝脏。 随着最近一轮融资的结束, Artisan 将总部从 Durham 迁到了纽黑文的科学园。除了 Hatteras , Artisan 的投资者还包括 Malin 、强生(Johnson & Johnson) Innovation 、 Osage University Partners 和 Elm Street Ventures 。该公司还与 Brii Biosciences 建立了合作关系。 Brii Biosciences 是北卡罗来纳州达勒姆的一家公司,正在为中国市场开发治疗药物。这一伙伴关系包括 Aritzan 的研究中产生的三个项目,使 Brii 拥有 Artizan 的股权。

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