The billions of bacteria and other microorganisms inside the body are increasingly recognized as being vital to health. There are an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms in the intestines, a number 10 times greater than the total number of human cells in the body. And each person has a unique combination of bacteria – like a fingerprint.
The microorganisms in the gut carry out important and useful functions in the host, such as fermenting unused energy substrates, training the immune system, preventing growth of disease-causing bacteria, regulating the development of the gut, producing vitamins such as biotin, B-12 and vitamin K and hormones that promote the storage of fats.
Eating a lot of processed foods, excessive use of antibiotics and the sanitary practices of modern life erode the bacterial population and change its balance. This can result in overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeasts, molds and parasites that can be difficult to wipe out/ For instance, reduction in the level of serotonin or vitamins secreted by the gut microbiome affects our health and mood. The importance of the gut microbiome has long been recognized, but only recently has the importance of gut bacteria imbalance been recognized as a crucial factor in various diseases and health conditions.
Now, MyBiotics Pharma Ltd., an Israeli microbiome therapeutics company in Rehovot, and Hadasit Medical Research Services and Development Ltd., the technology transfer office of Hadassah-Univcrsity Medical Center, have entered into a research collaboration and licensing agreement for the identification of microbiome-based therapeutics.
They hope that such therapeutics will promote the response to and reduce adverse effects of specific antibodies called anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 in patients suffering from melanoma, the potentially serious skin cancer. The research is aimed at assessing the composition of the gut microbiome and secondary metabolites (organic compounds produced by the gut bacteria) in up to 100 melanoma patients treated with PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors, some of which already exhibited long-term response to the treatment.
Stool and blood samples will be collected at various time points along the treatment, for the purpose of identifying microbiome components that promote successful treatment.
The collaboration will combine Hadassah’s knowhow and expertise in immunotherapy treatment of melanoma patients with MyBiotics’ proprietary microbiome technologies enabling development of novel therapeutics. The two-year joint research project will be conducted by researchers from MyBiotics together with a team of researchers at Hadassah Cancer Research Institute headed by Prof. Michal Lotem, director of the Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy, at Hadassah Medical Center’s oncology department. It will be funded by MyBiotics, which has an exclusive license for all data and inventions stemming from the collaboration.
“Recent research supports the important role played by the microbiome in promoting the success of cancer immunotherapies, and points to the possibility of influencing the composition of the microbiome as an adjunct treatment,” said stated David Daboush, CEO of MyBiotics Pharma. “In this collaboration with Hadassah, we will leverage Mybiotics’ SuperDonor whole-microbiome recovery technology in combination with the MyLiveIn computational and predictive tools to advance research in order to unravel new layers of understanding and findings that will enable the design of effective microbiome-based therapeutics.”
“We look forward to the joint research with the team at Hadassah Cancer Research Institute, who bring excellent clinical capabilities combined with innovative thinking and expect this will be a significant partnership that will lead to better treatment options for oncology patients within the next few years,” Daboush added.
“For years, I have strived to study what was driving long-term survival of melanoma patients who did well beyond expectations,” said Lotem. “This collaboration gives us advanced molecular and genomic tools to analyze treatment success. After years of studying how cancer deceives us, I can’t wait to translate lessons of the past to therapies of the future.”
“This collaboration is an excellent example of the kind of partnerships we strive to create between medical companies and hospital-based research centers. I trust that the unique combination of scientific excellence and clinical expertise will work for the benefit of patients in Israel and worldwide”, stated Dr. Tamar Raz, the CEO of Hadasit.
MyBiotics has developed culturing, fermentation and delivery systems for generating a highly stable and diverse bacterial community that can be efficiently delivered to the gut and reliably restore microbiome balance. These technologies are effective for single microbes, complex microbial combinations and whole microbiome products. The technologies are highly potent and suitable for patients with microbiome-related medical conditions or for those who use antibiotics.
The Hadassah Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) is a newly established center, devoted to the development of next generation tools and therapies aimed at curing cancer.