US-based Seres Therapeutics and AstraZeneca have entered into a three-year research collaboration, which will focus on further understanding the potential of microbiome therapeutics in supplementing immuno-oncology treatment.
According to Seres Therapeutics, the partners will research to assess microbiome-based approaches as a predictor for which cancer immunotherapies get the best response from patients.
In addition, the company’s investigational microbiome therapeutic SER-401 could be evaluated in combination with AstraZeneca compounds targeting multiple cancers, as part of the collaboration.
SER-401 is an oral microbiome therapeutic candidate collected from screened healthy individuals whose microbiome bacterial signature is identical to what is seen with responders in cancer immunotherapy.
Seres Therapeutics’ microbiome drug discovery and manufacturing expertise will be applied with AstraZeneca’s oncology experience to study the potential for microbiome therapy to enhance clinical response when used along with adjunctive pharmaceutical approaches.
Seres Therapeutics president and CEO Eric Shaff said: “We are very pleased to be collaborating with AstraZeneca, a global leader in oncology, to advance the development of potential microbiome-based therapies for cancer.
“Through the activities under this collaboration and in our SER-401 Phase 1b clinical study in metastatic melanoma, we hope to meaningfully advance our understanding of the potential for microbiome therapeutics to magnify the impact of cancer immunotherapy.”
As per the terms of the collaboration, AstraZeneca will provide Seres Therapeutics $20m over two years. The pharma giant will also reimburse the microbiome therapeutics platform company for research activity carried out under the collaboration.
The US company will retain rights to oncology-targeted microbiome therapeutic candidates while AstraZeneca will gain the option to negotiate for rights to programs and other inventions emerging from the collaboration.
AstraZeneca oncology research & development senior vice president Jean-Charles Soria said: “Our new collaboration with Seres Therapeutics represents an important opportunity to advance our understanding of the relationship between the microbiome and the immune system’s ability to respond to cancer therapy.
“Despite progress in the field of immunotherapy, we are only at the tip of the iceberg. Too many patients are still unable to benefit from existing therapies, so we must continue following the science in pursuit of new and innovative solutions.”