Bloom Science and Duke University have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement that provides the biopharmaceutical company access to the intellectual property and technology related to unique strain isolates and genetic variants of Akkermansia genus bacteria.
This type of bacteria has been demonstrated to slow disease progression and prolong survival in animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Multiple reported animal studies have demonstrated the high therapeutic potential of Akkermansia muciniphila in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, immune oncology, progeroid syndrome and metabolic diseases,” Christopher Reyes, PhD, CEO of Bloom, said in a press release.
The gastrointestinal tract houses a complex and dynamic population of bacteria and other microorganisms, commonly called gut microbiome, which exert a marked influence on a person’s health, disease onset, and response to therapy.
In the context of ALS, animal models with the disorder have been found to have a significantly different microbial composition in the gut than healthy mice, suggesting that some microorganisms may play a role in disease severity.
One of the bacterial strains identified was Akkermansia muciniphila, found to slow disease progression and prolong survival after being administered to mice as a probiotic-like supplement.
The researchers found similar microbiome alterations in people with ALS. They identified a metabolite of the Akkermansia bacteria — nicotinamide — that was significantly reduced in the brains of patients compared with healthy individuals (controls), suggesting a potential mechanism by which Akkermansia exerts its beneficial effects.
Raphael H. Valdivia, PhD, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke, has produced unique strain isolates and created a library of genetic variants of Akkermansia bacteria. To better understand the benefits of the microbe’s specific genes in immune health, Valdivia will continue to isolate, characterize, and genetically modify Akkermansia.
Following an exclusive licensing agreement, Bloom Science now has access to Valdivia’s technology, and plans to develop and license genetically optimized and Akkermansia-based therapies. Bloom is a biotechnology company committed to discovering and developing revolutionary new drugs targeting the complex interactive network between the gut and the brain. Valdivia will be joining Bloom as a scientific founder.
“Dr. Valdivia and his team’s extensive research will be foundational to our therapeutic development platform and furthers our strategy of investing in and expanding our multi-faceted approach to leveraging the gut-brain axis to discover and develop breakthrough therapies for the largest number of patients,” Reyes said.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to generate Akkermansia strains with the most beneficial activities and accelerate their application as potential therapeutics, ” Valdivia said.