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PureTech Health Announces Licensing Agreement between Commense and the University of British Columbia for Microbiome-Derived Therapy

By May 9, 2017No Comments

PureTech Health plc (“PureTech Health” or the “Company”, LSE:PRTC), an advanced, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is pleased to announce a licensing agreement between Commense, Inc. (“Commense”), a subsidiary of PureTech Health, and the University of British Columbia (“UBC”) for a microbiome-based therapy directed toward the prevention of asthma and other allergic diseases that present in childhood. This live biotherapeutic product bolsters Commense’s pipeline of novel therapeutic programs designed to nurture a healthy microbiome early in life.

The licensed technology was developed at UBC by B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Scientific Advisory Board Member of the Company, Stuart Turvey, MBBS, D.Phil, FRCPC, and their colleagues and is based on their research published in Science Translational Medicine. Based on analysis of a longitudinal study, Dr. Finlay and his colleagues identified a transient imbalance early in life in children with atopy, wheeze, and asthma of four specific bacterial taxa: Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (FLVR). In preclinical models of airway inflammation, signs of respiratory diseases, such as asthma, were ameliorated when live FLVR was introduced to correct the imbalance. The potential protective influence of FLVR in the early development of a child’s immune system and against the development of asthma could have a significant impact on non-infectious, chronic diseases in children and adults.

“Asthma is a lifelong chronic disease that affects the quality of life of over 25 million Americans. The impact of using a defined microbial intervention to potentially change the natural course of asthma and prevent many cases of the disease could be profound,” said Fernando Martinez, MD, Director of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center at the University of Arizona and a Clinical Advisor to Commense. “The FLVR supplementation approach uses defined gut-derived bacterial consortia against allergy and asthma. If this approach were to be successful, it would be a key step forward.”

“Nurturing a healthy microbiome early in life represents a novel strategy to significantly reduce the impact of chronic diseases like asthma, allergies, diabetes, and obesity,” said Joe Bolen, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer for PureTech Health. “Brett’s work and contributions with FLVR build upon our arsenal of microbiome-derived therapeutics and may potentially impact childhood health in an important way.”

Commense programs are part of PureTech Health’s growing pipeline in immunology and microbiome-based therapeutics. These programs leverage the core expertise PureTech Health has developed through its Vedanta Biosciences subsidiary, allowing for accelerated development. Commense anticipates initiation of human clinical trials in 2019.

PureTech Health has gathered a group of leading expert collaborators and advisors around the Commense program, including:

  • Rob Knight, Ph.D., (SAB Member) – Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego); Director of UC San Diego’s Center for Microbiome Innovation; co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project and American Gut; pioneer of key computational and experimental techniques for characterizing and designing complex microbial communities in different ecosystems; and author of TED book Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes;
  • Martin J. Blaser, M.D., (Scientific Co-Founder and SAB Member) – Professor of Microbiology, NYU Langone Medical Center; Director of the Human Microbiome Program; internationally recognized for his pioneering work in discovering the progressive loss of microbial diversity in the microbiota of people living in developed countries and its effects on health; and author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues;
  • B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D., (Scientific Co-Founder and SAB Member) – Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia; pioneer in understanding how loss of key microbes in children can affect disease, including atopic diseases and allergy; and author of Let Them Eat Dirt, which explores how the microbes that inhabit our bodies influence childhood development;
  • Joseph St. Geme III, M.D., (Advisor and SAB Member) – Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and leading clinician and researcher in the area of pediatric host-bacterial interactions;
  • Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D., (Scientific Co-Founder and SAB Member) – Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center; lead author of the Nature Medicine study and pioneer in characterizing and understanding microbial exposures early in life;
  • Sam Kass, (Advisor and Commense Board Member) – former Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at the White House and former Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! childhood health campaign; and
  • Bob Jones, (Advisor) – CEO of Scientific Nutrition Products, Inc.; former Nutrition and Wellness practice lead at Scientia Advisors, a strategy consulting firm; and former President and CEO of Vitasoy USA, Inc., the nation’s largest marketer and manufacturer of tofu and the pioneer of soymilk in America.

About Commense
Commense, a subsidiary of PureTech Health (LSE: PRTC), is building on a deep understanding of the microbiome early in life and its fundamental role in promoting a lifetime of good health. Drawing insights from natural exposures to beneficial microbes, Commense is developing approaches to guide the priming, seeding, and maintaining of the microbiome in infants and children. Commense is working with the world’s leading microbiome scientists, physicians, and product developers to develop a novel category of products to address critical unmet needs in pediatric populations.

About PureTech Health
PureTech Health (PureTech Health plc, PRTC.L) is an advanced, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines that modulate the adaptive human systems. PureTech’s therapies target the dysfunctions in the immune, nervous, and gastro-intestinal systems by addressing the underlying pathophysiology of disease from a systems perspective rather than through a single receptor or pathway. The Company is advancing a rich pipeline that includes multiple human proof-of-concept studies and pivotal or registration studies expected to read out over the next 12-18 months. PureTech Health’s growing research and development pipeline has been developed in collaboration with some of the world’s leading scientific experts, who along with PureTech’s experienced team and a stellar Board identify, analyze and advance very selectively the opportunities the Company believes hold the most promise for patients. This experienced and engaged team places PureTech Health at the forefront of ground-breaking science and technological innovation and leads the Company between and beyond existing disciplines. For more information, visit or connect with us on Twitter @puretechh.

Forward Looking Statement
This press release contains statements that are or may be forward-looking statements, including statements that relate to the company’s future prospects, developments and strategies. The forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance and achievements to differ materially from current expectations, including, but not limited to, those risks and uncertainties described in the risk factors included in the regulatory filings for PureTech Health plc. These forward-looking statements are based on assumptions regarding the present and future business strategies of the company and the environment in which it will operate in the future. Each forward-looking statement speaks only as at the date of this press release. Except as required by law and regulatory requirements, neither the company nor any other party intends to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.