Seres Therapeutics, Inc. has announced that it has entered into a strategic, multi-year research collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). The collaboration will support the translation of novel discoveries from MSK laboratories into first-in-field microbiome therapeutics across multiple new cancer indications, where the microbiome may play a critical role.
Seres and MSK have agreed to collaborate in two diverse areas of focus related to the discovery and development of microbiome therapeutics: (1) improving the morbidity and mortality outcomes of patients undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for treatment of cancer, by prevention of Transplant-Related Infections and Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD); and (2) increasing the efficacy and safety of checkpoint inhibitors used for immuno-oncology treatment. Both areas will be targeted using rationally-designed consortia of microbiome bacteria, a technology which Seres has pioneered in other therapeutic areas.
Seres and MSK have agreed to work jointly under a multi-year sponsored research agreement where Seres will collaborate with MSK investigators to study patient samples from MSK clinical studies, generating microbiome metagenomic signatures as well as other clinical data that are expected to aid in the design of novel microbiome therapeutics in these targeted disease states. The agreements also provide Seres with a global license to MSK's intellectual property related to the use of bacterial compositions in treating HSCT patients and related areas, further bolstering Seres' broad existing composition of matter and method of use patent estate.
"MSK scientists have been at the forefront of research into the crucial role of the microbiome in disease, and we believe our combined insights and capabilities could be strongly synergistic and pave the way toward clinically meaningful therapeutic applications for patients with various cancers and serious conditions related to their treatment," said Roger Pomerantz, M.D., President, CEO and Chairman of Seres.
In HSCT, MSK investigators, led by Marcel van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D., have published clinical studies demonstrating a relationship between the diversity and composition of the microbiome in HSCT patients and their increased risk of bacterial infections and GVHD, both of which contribute to overall all-cause mortality.1,2 Seres is currently developing SER-155, a rationally-designed, preclinical stage therapeutic candidate comprised of in vitro cultured bacterial species that aims to improve morbidity and mortality outcomes in HSCT patients.
In the area of immuno-oncology, researchers from Seres and MSK will also work together with the goal of discovering precisely how the microbiome could improve the efficacy and safety of immuno-oncology checkpoint inhibitors. This research builds upon a recent MSK publication which describes, for the first time, the important role of the microbiome in the development of immunological adverse events in patients, and related preclinical work showing that the microbiome can enhance the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors.3,4
"We are looking forward to collaborating with Seres, a global leader in the development of microbiome therapeutics, as we work together to advance our collective insights into meaningful clinical advances for patients. Based upon our research in cancer patients as well as animal models at MSK, we believe there is potential to improve patient outcomes by addressing the critical roles of the microbiome," said Dr. van den Brink.