Ardigen took part in the USA part of worldwide number one microbiome networking series: the 6th Microbiome R&D and Business Forum and the 3rd Probiotics Congress (https://microbiomecongress.com/events/microbiome-congress-2018), which was held on the 28th-30th October in San Diego. Congress attracted almost 200 industry, academic and investment leaders converged to hear 71 speakers.
Members of the Microbiome Team, Sonia and Jan, from the wide range of interesting, thought-provoking and valuable presentations chose their favourites:
- Rich Gallo University of California San Diego.
The conference began with a Professor’s Rich Gallo (University of California San Diego) lecture. He outlined that we should stop focusing on the taxonomy, even if we are able to achieve strain level results. We should go for genes and look at their functions.
2. 4D Pharma
James Leigh from 4D Pharma talked about live biotherapeutics as a breakthrough class of medicines. He stressed that we need to understand the LBPs mechanism of action. He presented results for the immuno-oncology live biotherapeutic candidate: MRx0518. This is Enterococcus genus, gram positive bacteria, selected for immunostimulatory host response profile. MRx0518 increases tumor CD8+/Trg ratio and causes immunostimulation through action of bacterial flagellini on TLR5 (inactivation of MRx0518 flagellin gene abolishes immunomodulatory effect). In June 2018 4D Pharma announced the beginning of a clinical trial evaluation of the combination of KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) and MRx0518 in 132 patients with solid tumours, who have progressed on prior anti-PD-1 therapy.
Pierre Belichard from Enterome talk was about Investigational New Drugs (IND), like small molecules and peptides, targeting specific functions of the microbiome. For me the most interesting was microbiome epitope based immunotherapy: “Onco-Mimics” Program. Pierre Belichard told that the epitope mimicry can generate anti tumor CD8+ T cell response. There are 3 Immuno-oncology therapeutic candidates in the Enterome’s pipeline: EO2401, EO510 and EO520.
- Finch Therapeutics
In his talk, James Burges of Finch Therapeutics outlined the principles of ‘Human First’ platform. He stressed on following the typical drug development pathway backwards. Instead of analyzing specific therapeutics and further validation of lead, Finch’s platform starts with the FMT outcome reports. Analyzing the effective donors’ samples Finch looks for the common patterns that may further be used as the FMT alternative.
The CoreBiome’s Dan Knights spoke on their advances in the shallow-seq technology. The 99% BoosterShot seems to be a promising technology for the replacement of 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Interestingly such an approach allows for the higher resolution for roughly equal cost.
3. Clinical Microbiomics
Also Denmark-based Clinical Microbiomics presented their technical advances related to the shotgun sequencing technology. Jakob Bak Holm pointed that the utilization of the Metagenomic Species concept, developed by Clinical MIcrobiomics’ CSO, allows for the usage of most of sample’s reads. Importance of this technology was mostly targeted for the skin microbiome researchers, who must deal with up to 90% of host DNA in the shotgun samples.
Additionally to presentation of the renowned HUNT4 project, Morten Isaksen CEO of Bio-me showed results of the in-house tests of their rapid microbiome profiling technology. What was the most important part of his talk, Morten stated that Bio-me is going to focus on the functionalities within microbiome rather than taxonomy. His ‘bacteria doesn’t care how you name it’ was a very far-reaching thought exactly matching Ardigen’s view on the microbiome analysis paradigm.