Vedanta, NYU Development Collaboration
News Aug 18, 2016
Vedanta Biosciences, pioneering the development of a novel class of therapies designed to modulate pathways of interaction between the human microbiome and the host immune system, today announced that it has entered into a translational collaboration with the NYU Langone Medical Center focused on developing novel microbiome - derived immunotherapies for cancer patients being treated with checkpoint inhibitors.
Under the terms o f the agreement, Vedanta will collaborate with a group of oncologists led by Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Lang one and a renowned melanoma and immunotherapy expert, on clinical studies to support the identification of new microbiome immunotherapies for cancer. The studies will also explore mechanisms by which the gut microbiome influences the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors in cancer patients. Recent research published in Cell by Vedanta co - founder Dr. Kenya Honda at Keio University, has suggested that human - dwelling bacterial strains can activate immune cells in the gut that could be harnessed for immunotherapies. Vedanta has a worldwide, exclusive license to IP covering Dr. Honda’s discovery. Other findings in the field indicate that gut bacteria can potentially modulate the therapeutic responses to checkpoint blockades, as well as other classes of cancer therapeutics.
“Dr. Weber is a pioneer in translational research, particularly in immunotherapy and the development of checkpoint inhibitors,” said Dr. Bruce Roberts, Chief Scientific Officer of Vedanta. “We look forward to working with Dr. Weber to expand Vedanta’s portfolio of immune activating microbial cocktails for use in standalone immunotherapy and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.”
“Checkpoint inhibitors are a major advance in cancer therapy, but many patients do not respond to therapy, and some patients who respond will eventually relapse,” said Dr. Weber. “ Recent data suggest an important role for the microbiome in the anti-tumor activity of immunotherapy, and our other studies of the microbiome will offer interesting new clinical insights into how and why these treatments work. Further understanding of the role of the microbiome in immunotherapeutic responses against cancer may also lead to new and improved therapies.”
Controlling mosquito-borne illnesses has historically been difficult. Scientists have turned to manipulating Wolbachia, a parasitic bacterium within mosquitoes, as a way to control the reproductive fitness of mosquito populations that transmit human disease. In a study, researchers identified a new mobile DNA element in Wolbachia, which may contribute to improved control strategies for mosquito vectors of disease.