Pharma Focus Asia

Artizan Biosciences Announces Multi-Year Research Collaboration with the University Medical Center Utrecht and Microviable Therapeutics SL

Friday, July 22, 2022

Artizan Biosciences, Inc., a biotechnology company creating gut exclusive microbial metalloprotease inhibitors (GEMMi), a new class of transformative precision therapeutics that disrupt chronic inflammatory disease triggers, today announced that it has entered into a multi-year research collaboration with the University Medical Center Utrecht (“UMC Utrecht”) in The Netherlands and Microviable Therapeutics SL (“Microviable”) to explore the role that gut microbiota may have in immune checkpoint inhibitor (“ICI”) therapies for patients with cancer.

“We are excited by the potential of this collaboration to showcase the diversity of Artizan’s unique technology platform and to further expand our pipeline into oncology,” said Bridget Martell, M.A., M.D., Artizan’s President and CEO. “As published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[i], approximately 43.6% of US patients with cancer are eligible for ICI therapy, yet only 12.5% of treated patients respond to it. We look forward to working with UMC Utrecht and Microviable to identify potential solutions that can improve patient outcomes and reduce the side effects of ICI treatment.”

Intestinal microbiota have been implicated in modulating efficacy responses of ICI therapy and these effects can be reproduced in mouse tumor models that have been colonized with humanized microbiotas.[ii],[iii]. Artizan’s proprietary IgA-SEQ™ discovery platform interrogates microbial communities to identify individual bacterial strains and key virulence factors that elicit immunologic dysregulation. By leveraging this unique discovery platform, the collaboration will potentially determine specific bacteria producing factors within the gut microbiota that can either effect ICI therapeutic response and / or lessen treatment side effects.

In partnership with UMC Utrecht, Artizan Biosciences will collaborate on the analysis of an extensive biobank of more than 200 patients with cancer that includes samples taken both before and during ICI therapy, including patients that have experienced intestinal immune-related adverse events (“irAEs”). Using Artizan’s IgA-SEQ technology, the research team will identify pivotal bacteria that evoke immune responses with the objective of unravelling the mechanisms through which these bacteria affect ICI therapy using in vivo and in vitro model systems. Once identified, Artizan aims to develop small molecule therapeutics that inhibit these targets thereby modulating the pathological oncologic drivers.

“In up to 56% of irAE cases in ICI treated patients,[iv] symptoms present in the intestinal tract as moderate to severe intestinal inflammation, resembling what is seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease,” said Marcel de Zoete, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Artizan and Associate Professor of Microbiome Research at the Department of Medical Microbiology at the UMC Utrecht. “Recent data show a clear correlation between ICI induced irAEs severity and overall cancer survival[v]. The key challenge is how to maximize ICI therapy effectiveness while minimizing irAEs.”

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