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Gut feeling
July/August 2020
by Ilene Schneider  |  Email the author
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BORDEAUX, France—LNC Therapeutics, a French biotech company that specializes in the research and development of innovative drugs harnessing the potential of the gut microbiome, has entered into an exclusive license agreement with the University of Valencia in Spain for its patent dedicated to the therapeutic applications of Christensenella gut bacteria in mood disorders.
 
LNC is the first biotech company to harness the therapeutic potential of the Christensenella gut bacteria in mood disorders. The agreement strengthens the portfolio of intellectual property and Live Biotherapeutic Products for new applications in areas of high unmet medical need, according to LNC officials.
 
By acquiring the license, LNC Therapeutics gains the exclusive worldwide research, manufacturing and marketing rights of the therapeutics developed for the treatment of mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. The agreement is based on the work of the research team led by Prof. Yolanda Sanz, professor of research and head of the Microbial Ecology, Nutrition and Health group at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Sanz is also the lead investigator of the European MyNewGut project, one of the world’s largest microbiome research initiatives.
 
LNC Therapeutics has identified the unique gut-brain connection as a new treatment approach to mood disorders. The gut has its own neural network—the enteric nervous system, which has more than 500 million neurons and is connected directly to the brain by the vagus nerve. Research on this bidirectional communication system, known as the gut-brain axis, indicates that the gut affects the brain. Studies have confirmed the role of the intestinal microbiota on neurodegenerative diseases and mood disorders. Targeting the gut microbiome could provide promising new therapeutic approaches in neurological and mental disorders.
 
As a keystone of the gut microbiome, the Christensenellaceae family of bacteria promises to be an important source of treatment innovations. It could enable exploration of a new avenue of research in the treatment of chronic conditions, such as obesity or metabolic and inflammatory diseases. LNC Therapeutics’ focus on the beneficial properties of Christensenellaceae, extended to targeting the gut-brain axis for the treatment of mood disorders, could lead to new and promising applications.
 
As Georges Rawadi, CEO of LNC Therapeutics, explained, “The key to the gut microbiome is balance. The more rich and diversified your gut bacteria are, the lower your risk of developing an illness. Many scientific publications have highlighted the link between an imbalance of the microbiome—dysbiosis—and the onset of chronic disease. That’s how we first started using commensal bacteria to restore the balance of our gut microbiome, and how a new class of medication emerged: Live Biotherapeutic Products, or LBPs.”
 
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a live biotherapeutic product contains live organisms, such as bacteria, and is applicable to the prevention, treatment or cure of a disease or condition in human beings. LNC Therapeutics has chosen to develop single-strain LBPs, which use a bacterial strain that has been specifically selected for each drug candidate.
 
“The conclusion of this agreement with a leader in the discovery of the gut microbiome’s therapeutic applications such as LNC Therapeutics reinforces our belief about the potential advantages of the bacteria Christensenella in human health,” said Dr. Yolanda Sanz, professor of the National Research Council (CSIC) at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA) in Valencia. “The fundamental role played by the gut and its microbiota in the functions of our central nervous system is still a field of research in development, and I am convinced that this new research program will allow us to quickly identify new therapeutics properties specific to a bacterial strain of Christensenella for mood disorders.”
 
Rawadi concluded, “The new license broadens the applications of our Live Biotherapeutic Products to mood disorders, which is an area of high unmet medical needs. The gut-brain axis is certainly one of the most innovative area in drug discovery today, and it is an exciting opportunity for LNC Therapeutics to leverage our expertise in preclinical, manufacturing and regulatory activities to develop first-in-class products in that field."
 
Code: E072004

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