The partnership looks to develop the NovoSift platform, Novobiome’s ex-vivo research and discovery platform that analyses the symbiotic relationship between the microbiota and the human intestine.
“Functional metagenomics has allowed access to the potential of bacterial genes of the whole gut microbiota. We now need to understand how these functions are regulated in the host-microbiota relationship,” says Pierre-Yves Mousset, Chief Executive Officer of NovoBiome
“To make a linguistic analogy, after words and syntax, the NovoSift platform aims to decipher the semantics and become the Rosetta stone of these critical interactions.”
INRAE’s collaboration with the French biotherapeutics firm is the second research agreement of its type having established a role in developing a first Live Biotherapeutic Product (LBP) drug candidate that targets Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis (NASH).
The agreement, inked in May, will use NovoSift’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology unlock insights into compounds and LBP drug candidates.
The platform blends four best-in-class technologies, all nominated “Method of the Year” by Nature Magazine that comprises of high-throughput functional metagenomics, human intestinal organoids, high resolution fluorescent confocal microscopy and a deep learning AI algorithm.
Confocal microscopy and AI
This latest deal takes a similar approach, using reporter systems based on human intestinal organoids to assess the impact of interactions between the microbiota and the host on intestinal permeability.
This will be observed in the presence or absence of substrates of interest (molecules, probiotics, prebiotics or foods) that will be measured using confocal microscopy and AI.
Co-constructed by NovoBiome and INRAE’s MetaGenoPolis unit (MGP), the hope is NovoSift can pool the human and material resources over five years in order to upgrade the paradigms of ex-vivo studies.
“The MGP unit has not only been a pioneer but also remains at the forefront of world research in this field. It is therefore a privilege for NovoBiome to be able to count on this excellent partnership,” adds Mousset.
“INRAE is proud to see the emergence of start-ups such as NovoBiome, which enhance the excellent academic work initiated by INRAE researchers,” says Philippe Lénée, Director of Partnership and Transfer for Innovation at INRAE.
“Our strong commitment to supporting these initiatives has prevailed in the design of a new type of partnership that is flexible and mutually beneficial for both entities.
“The shared objective is performance but also efficiency in speeding up the implementation of new concepts.”
NAFLD & NASH research efforts
Formed in May this year, Novobiome have chosen to concentrate their efforts on the role of the microbiome-gut-liver axis on liver conditions such as NAFLD / NASH.
The firm’s LBP drug candidate ADC-001 comprises an anti-inflammatory bacterium, Coriobacteriia that has demonstrated potent therapeutic effects in vitro and in animal models. It is currently in development with the aim of entering human trials by 2022-2023.
The drug candidate specifically contains Adlercreutzia equolifaciens, an equol-producing bacterium isolated from human faeces that is strongly correlated with the switch from NAFLD to NASH.
Previous research has linked the bacterium with a “healthy” status while other notable research has noted its disappearance in those suffering from cirrhosis.
Adlercreutzia equolifaciens is said to play a role in reducing inflammation, decreasing hyperglycaemia and limits weight gain in in vivo models transplanted with NASH patient microbiota.
Novobiome received financial backing to the tune of €50.2m ($60m) from eureKARE as part of a Series A financing as an investor in the firm.
eureKARE, headquartered in Luxembourg, is an investment firm focused on financing and building next generation biotechnology companies in the fields of the microbiome and synthetic biology.
As part of the agreement, eureKARE’s founder, Alexandre Mouradian, along with a pan-European team led by biotech expert Rodolphe Besserve, will join NovoBiome’s Supervisory Board.