Genentech has formed a multi-year strategic alliance with Wellcome Sanger Institute’s Microbiotica to address inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Focused on microbiomes, the collaboration will see discovery, development and commercialisation of biomarkers, targets and drugs for the disease.

Microbiotica will leverage its precision metagenomics microbiome platform to examine samples obtained from subjects participating in the clinical trials of Genentech’s IBD drug candidates.

This analysis is expected to allow identification of microbiome biomarker signatures of drug response, new drug targets and live bacteria-based therapeutic products for the condition.

Microbiotica CEO Mike Romanos said: “We are excited by the opportunity to work with Genentech scientists in order to bring precision metagenomics into the clinical arena for the first time, enabling us to develop biomarkers and medicines for the benefit of patients.

“This collaboration reflects Microbiotica’s strategy of utilising its platform for medicines and biomarker discovery while simultaneously expanding platform capabilities.”

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“We look forward to working together to potentially bring new medicines to people suffering from IBD.”

Under the terms of the deal, Genentech will pay an undisclosed upfront amount to Microbiotica as well as  additional $534m at pre-determined research, development and commercialisation milestones.

In addition, Microbiotica will potentially get royalties on sales of certain products resulting from the partnership. Genentech retains the option to licence assets that Microbiotica develops under the alliance.

Genentech Partnering senior vice-president and global head James Sabry said: “We believe the microbiome represents a new paradigm in biomedicine, both for understanding drug response and as a novel therapeutic modality.

“We have chosen to collaborate with Microbiotica because of its high-quality science and look forward to working together to potentially bring new medicines to people suffering from IBD.”