Microbiome startup Vedanta Biosciences – developers of a new category of therapies for immune-mediated diseases using live human microbiome-derived bacteria – has raised an additional US$18.5 million in its third round of financing, bringing the total to US$45.5 million. The funding will be used to advance Vedanta’s clinical studies supporting its portfolio, which includes the company regards as the largest collection of human-gut associated bacteria for use in the clinical treatment of diseases.
The company has not disclosed when their products are expected to hit the market, following the completion of the clinical trials.
Vedanta Biosciences specializes in the identification and cultivation of human commensal bacteria that induce a range of immune responses, including regulatory T cells, CD8+ T cells and Th17 cells, among others. These advances have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature, Cell and Nature Immunology. Vedanta Biosciences worked with these biological insights to generate a pipeline of treatment programs for infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, allergies and immuno-oncology.
Among the company’s operational capacities are a suite of proprietary assays to select pharmacologically potent strains, vast proprietary datasets from human interventional studies and facilities for cGMP-compliant manufacturing of rationally-defined bacterial consortia in powder form. The company works with automated processes to study human microbiome-derived bacteria from fecal samples collected from around the world, which are cultivated in precisely measured batches.
Vedanta Biosciences’ consortia (two or more microbial groups that live symbiotically) of bacterial strains are designed to effect “robust and durable therapeutic changes in a patient’s gut microbiota.” In contrast to fecal transplants or administration of fecal fractions, Vedanta Biosciences’ consortia are defined compositions of bacteria manufactured from pure, clonal cell banks, without the need to rely on direct sourcing of fecal donor material of inconsistent composition. When compared to reductionist approaches, such as single strain probiotics, the company says this form of treatment can “shift the gut ecosystem.”
“Our platform has the potential to address broad medical needs, including the treatment of drug-resistant infection, food allergies and other immune-mediated conditions where current approaches fall short,” says Bernat Olle, Ph.D., Co-Founder and CEO of Vedanta Biosciences.
“This financing will enable us to continue to advance defined bacterial consortia as a new modality, including generating clinical readouts in multiple therapeutic areas,” he adds.
Vedanta Biosciences’ new investment comes from JSR Corporation, Shumway Capital, SymBiosis LLC and Partners Investment Co., Ltd., who join previously disclosed investors the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Rock Springs Capital, Invesco Asset Management, Health for Life (Seventure Partners) and founder PureTech Health.
“Vedanta has had a number of additional milestones. For instance, we announced a successful Phase 1a/1b data for antibiotic-resistant infections caused by the bacteria C. difficile in October 2018 and the initiation of Phase 1 clinical study with Janssen to study inflammatory bowel disease in November 2018. More recently, Vedanta began a collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to evaluate their cancer candidate in December 2018,” a Vedanta spokesperson tells.
Heightened focus on the active role of the human microbiome in moderating overall bodily and mental health continues to propel related NPD, with initiatives by the likes of prominent industry players Danone and Chr. Hansen advancing research in this space. This growing area offers a wealth of opportunities to formulators, but due to regulatory demands and increasing consumer scrutiny, a clear view of how to navigate this space is vital.