NEW YORK – Cambridge, UK-based Microbiotica today announced that it will collaborate with Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) to develop microbiome co-therapeutics for cancer patients and identify gut bacteria signatures capable of predicting patients' response or resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
For its part of the collaboration, Wellcome Sanger Institute spinout Microbiotica will use its microbiome profiling and analysis platform together with data from two CUH-led clinical studies, MelResist and MITRE, to identify gut bacterial signatures associated with treatment response or resistance.
The MelResist study, focused on evaluating the resistance melanoma patients develop to targeted drugs, has been completed. Microbiotica said in a statement that it has already been able to identify gut bacterial signatures predictive of drug response through retrospective analysis of the MelResist data and is working to advance that work.
The company hopes to further this work within MITRE, which plans to enroll 1,800 patients with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and renal cancer, and is specifically designed to evaluate the role of the microbiome and other biomarkers on patients' ability to respond to checkpoint inhibitors. In the study, patients will receive drugs provided by the NHS, and researchers will collect samples from patients and perform biochemical analysis on them. Microbiotica will culture patients' gut bacteria and sequence and analyze it using machine learning.
"Checkpoint inhibitors have already impacted the lives of many cancer patients for the better but fewer than half of patients respond," Microbiotica CEO Mike Romanos said in a statement. "There is strong evidence that response rates can be increased through manipulation of the microbiome and Microbiotica's platform has already been able to identify consistent bacterial signatures predictive of drug response in melanoma for the first time."
Microbiotica's platform involves a comprehensive reference database of collected gut bacteria, as well as a suite of bioinformatic and machine-learning tools that allow for the identification of gut bacterial signatures linked to patients' phenotypes. According to the company's statement, Microbiotica can also develop any predictive bacteria signatures it identifies into live co-therapeutic products that may be given to patients with melanoma, lung, and renal cancer with the goal of improving their ability to respond to immunotherapies.