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Seres models the gut
September 2016
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—This summer saw Seres Therapeutics Inc., a leading microbiome therapeutics platform company, and Emulate Inc., a private company commercializing its Organs-on-Chips technology, announce a collaboration under which they will work to further advance Emulate’s Intestine-Chip platform, a micro-engineered, living-tissue-based system that models the human intestine.
 
Seres intends to use the technology to identify novel bacteria compositions with therapeutic potential.
 
“Emulate has developed a highly innovative technology platform consisting of multiple human cell types that may be far more accurate in recreating human gastrointestinal tissue and its interaction with the microbiome than conventional cell culture approaches,” said Dr. David Cook, executive vice president of research and development and chief scientific officer of Seres. “We expect Emulate’s technology platform will enhance our approach for drug discovery and accelerate our efforts to identify promising new microbiome therapeutic candidates for inflammatory bowel disease, other autoimmune or immunological conditions, infectious diseases, and other serious disease states, which may have a microbiome therapeutic based solution.”
 
James Coon, CEO of Emulate, expressed pleasure at the prospect of working with Seres as a leader in the development of microbiome therapeutics and, more broadly, advancing Organs-on-Chips to enhance drug discovery in an emerging field like the microbiome. He added: “The microbiome represents a critically important new area of medicine, and our Intestine-Chip is remarkably well suited to evaluate complex biological mechanisms, such as the impact of bacterial compositions on the integrity of the gut barrier and mechanisms of healing in response to inflammation. By combining Emulate’s human-relevant Organs-on-Chips technology with the therapeutic expertise from biopharmaceutical leaders such as Seres, Emulate aims to meaningfully contribute to improving human health.”
 
Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of inflammatory conditions with chronic or recurring immune response and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common inflammatory bowel diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Inflammation affects the entire digestive tract in Crohn’s disease and only the large intestine in ulcerative colitis. Both illnesses are characterized by an abnormal response of the body’s immune system.
 
That news was marred somewhat for Seres with Phase 2 results in the ECOSPOR trial that came out later in the summer, showing that its investigational therapeutic SER-109 had failed to meet its primary endpoint. This came weeks after enthusiasm around preview results of the study weeks earlier.
 
As Leerink Partners analysts wrote, “Both investors and management are left puzzled at the surprisingly disappointing [ECOSPOR] data investigating SER-109 in multiply recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (rCDI).”
 
Leerink noted that Seres plans to revisit the data and analyze comprehensively for biomarkers and progress over time to ascertain the mechanism/rationale behind the recent announcement.
 
The analysts also remarked that, “Although the compositions in each of these live biotherapeutic formulations are distinct, we believe investors will be more cautious on the fundamental backbone of [Seres’] approach—tackling and restoring the microbiome for clinical improvements. Furthermore, as SER-109 is being evaluated by the vaccines division of the FDA, inconsistent data may be met with more pushback from regulators.”
 
Code: E091607

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