Second Genome analyses the human microbiome to discover biomarkers, biological pathways and targets for the development, or augmentation, of treatments. The company’s focus on irritable bowel disease (IBD) dovetails with Gilead’s own work in the gastrointestinal area.
The partnership consists of a four-year collaboration, including the possibility of a further two-year extension, which sees Second Genome receive $38m (€34m) upfront and a potential $300m (€274m) for each target discovery programs as they progress.
Gilead will select up to five compounds from its pipeline in inflammation and fibrosis, among other diseases, which will then be matched against biomarkers discovered by Second Genome’s microbiome analytics platform. The focus will be on the potential development of targets or drug candidates relevant to IBD.
In terms of what particular abilities its platform will bring to Gilead’s compounds, Karim Dabbagh, CEO of Second Genome, said, “We believe the microbiome holds insight into patient heterogeneity as well as response to specific therapies. These differences enable the identification of important biomarkers to enhance precision medicine for better patient segmentation as well as potential combination therapies.”
Gilead is entering the microbiome area as interest steadily grows to determine how patients’ microbiomes, and potential live biotherapeutics, are able to alter or aid disease treatment.
A recent example saw research published last month reveal that certain cancer treatments are rendered ineffective if gut bacteria is neutered.
As a result, companies are now investing more funds in this area of research, which has led Chr. Hansen and Lonza to form a joint venture contract development and manufacturing organization specifically for the manufacture of live biotherapeutics.