Researchers at Denmark-based Bactolife are designing targeted protein molecules called Binding Proteins to target toxins from harmful pathogens that have infiltrated the gastrointestinal tract while leaving the beneficial gut microbiome alone.

In a bid to advance its platform, the company has just raised €30m ($33m).

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Bactolife raised the funds in a Series A round led by ATHOS with participation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Novo Holdings. The company previously raised €7m in seed financing in April 2021.

Humans have trillions of microorganisms that live in the gut. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites constitute a network of ‘good’ microbiota that plays important roles in nutrient metabolism, maintaining gut walls, and fighting off infections.

Bactolife is developing proteins that focus on strengthening the gut microbiome and reducing the likelihood of gastrointestinal infections that occur when pathogens overwhelm natural defences. The company also says that its technology reduces the need for antibiotics, which can help address the ever-growing issue of antibiotic resistance.

Bactolife’s Binding Proteins bind to virulence factors produced by harmful microbes to prevent infection. The targeted approach means that the beneficial microbes living in the gut remain unaffected. The proteins, which mimic those found in mother’s milk, are temperature and pH-resistant and can be added to dietary supplements for easy administration.

The company states it has established proof-of-concept for its technology in a separate animal health product, Ablacto, which reduced the severity of post-weaning diarrhoea in more than 6,000 piglets.

According to UNICEF, diarrhoea accounted for 9% of worldwide deaths in children under five years of age in 2019.

Bactolife CEO Sebastian Søderberg said: “The funding allows us to increase our investments in our project pipeline, technology platform, organisation and upscaling capabilities. Further, it will enable Bactolife to accelerate our partnering efforts with world-leading companies and commercialise our first product concepts for humans and animals.”