Second Genome Announces Agreement with Janssen on Microbiome Drug Discovery in Ulcerative Colitis
The role of gut bacteria in ulcerative colitis to be the focus of pharmaceutical collaboration in microbiome R&D
In a separate announcement, Second Genome completes third tranche of $11.5 Million Series A financing and expands board of directors and scientific advisors
San Bruno, CA, June 5, 2013—Second Genome, Inc. announced today that the company has entered into an agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. (Janssen) focused on microbiome drug discovery. With the goal of advancing novel drug targets, the agreement is focused on therapeutic mechanisms in ulcerative colitis mediated by the bacterial ecosystem living within the human gut, referred to as the microbiome. Second Genome will apply its microbiome modulation discovery platform to characterize the role of bacterial populations in ulcerative colitis.
“Foundational microbiome research over the past several years has demonstrated that alterations to the microbiome are central to the development of inflammation and metabolic disorders,” said Peter DiLaura, President and CEO at Second Genome. “The role of the microbiome in health and disease has arrived as a significant area of focus in pharmaceutical R&D. This collaboration with Janssen will identify mechanisms by which microbial populations in the gut have an impact in ulcerative colitis.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Second Genome will receive an upfront payment and support for research activities conducted by Second Genome in collaboration with Janssen. In addition, Second Genome is eligible to receive potential payments upon the achievement of certain research milestones. The research will be funded through the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center and the Immunology Therapeutic Area within Janssen Research & Development, LLC.
The human microbiome is the population of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in and on the body. These microbial communities play critical roles in supporting life and health. They are needed to digest food, to prevent disease-causing bacteria from invading the body, and to synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins. Pioneering a path for translating microbiome discoveries into novel therapeutics, Second Genome has developed a proprietary approach for generating therapeutic candidates that modulate microbe-microbe and microbe-human interactions that contribute to health and disease.
"A breakdown in the normal relationship between the human immune system and the bacterial communities that reside in the gut appears to play an important role in development of the hallmark chronic inflammation of ulcerative colitis,” said Dr. Susan Lynch, scientific advisor to Second Genome and Director of the Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Microbiome Research Core and Associate Professor, Gastroenterology at University of California, San Francisco. “Second Genome has a powerful platform to mine the microbiome for potential targets which have the potential to translate into effective therapeutics that dramatically impact patient health.”
Series A Financing and Board Appointments
Separately, Second Genome announced today it has received an additional $6.5 million in Series A financing, bringing the total amount raised in the Series A round to $11.5 million. Current investors participated in the financing, including Advanced Technology Ventures, Morgenthaler, and Wavepoint Ventures, and individuals including Dr. Corey Goodman, co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors, and Dr. Matt Winkler, also on the Board of Directors. The new funding will be used to accelerate programs in metabolic disease, inflammation, and infection.
Second Genome also announced the appointment of Brad A. Margus, former CEO and co-founder of Envoy Therapeutics, to its board of directors; and Jerrold M. Olefsky, Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego to its scientific advisory board.
Mr. Margus co-founded Envoy Therapeutics Inc. in 2009, serving as Chief Executive Officer prior to its acquisition by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company in 2012. Earlier, Mr. Margus co-founded Perlegen Sciences, Inc. and served as its Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Margus has been a member of numerous IRBs, NIH advisory committees and corporate boards. He currently serves as Chairman and volunteer President of the A-T Children’s Project; as a Harvard Business School Global Advisor; on the Board of Children’s Neurobiological Solutions, an organization aimed at applying brain repair and regeneration to pediatric neurological disorders; as an advisor to the Rare Disease Network; and as Co-chair of the Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials (NeuroNEXT) External Oversight Board.
Dr. Olefsky is Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and the Associate Dean of Scientific Affairs for the UCSD School of Medicine. His work has been instrumental in defining the basic genetic and cellular mechanisms responsible for the pathogenesis of Type II Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other diseases. Dr. Olefsky is a member of the Institute of Medicine and was the 1998 recipient of the American Diabetes Association's Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement. He currently serves on the scientific advisory boards of NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Metabolex, and the Profil Institute.
About Second Genome
Second Genome brings microbiome science to the discovery and development of therapeutic products. The company has established a pipeline of microbiome modulators that impact infection, inflammation, and metabolic diseases. Second Genome’s development pipeline is fueled by novel technologies for identifying, screening and scientifically validating therapeutic candidates. Please visit www.secondgenome.com for more information.