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Going with your gut
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


SAN BRUNO, Calif.—Second Genome, Inc. has announced the establishment of an agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. for microbiome drug discovery, specifically the advancement of novel drug targets for therapeutic mechanisms implicated in ulcerative colitis. Second Genome, which specializes in science of the microbiome—the bacterial ecosystem that lives in the human gut—will apply its microbiome modulation discovery platform to determine the role that bacterial populations play in ulcerative colitis.
Per the terms of the agreement, Janssen will make an upfront payment to Second Genome as well as support for research activities Second Genome will conduct in collaboration with Janssen. Second Genome will also be eligible to receive additional payments if certain research milestones are met. The funding will come from the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center and the Immunology Therapeutic Area within Janssen Research & Development, LLC. No specific financial details were disclosed.
"Foundational microbiome research over the past several years has demonstrated that alterations to the microbiome are central to the development of inflammation and metabolic disorders," Peter DiLaura, president and CEO at Second Genome, said in a press release. "The role of the microbiome in health and disease has arrived as a significant area of focus in pharmaceutical R&D. This collaboration with Janssen will identify mechanisms by which microbial populations in the gut have an impact in ulcerative colitis."  
The microbiome consists of a population of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that reside in the gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in and on the human body, and are vital for important biological roles such as digestion, synthesizing vitamins and nutrients and preventing disease-causing bacteria from taking hold in the body. Second Genome's proprietary approach enables the development of therapeutic candidates that can modulate microbe-microbe and microbe-human interactions related to health and disease.  
"A breakdown in the normal relationship between the human immune system and the bacterial communities that reside in the gut appears to play an important role in development of the hallmark chronic inflammation of ulcerative colitis," commented Dr. Susan Lynch, scientific advisor to Second Genome, director of the Colitis and Crohn's Disease Microbiome Research Core and associate professor of Gastroenterology at University of California, San Francisco. "Second Genome has a powerful platform to mine the microbiome for potential targets which have the potential to translate into effective therapeutics that dramatically impact patient health."  
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcers in the lining of the large intestine (specifically the colon and rectum). Next to Crohn's disease, it is one of the main forms of inflammatory bowel disease, and according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, as many as 700,000 Americans may suffer from this condition.  
SOURCE: Second Genome press release
Code: E06051301



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