Ferring, Israel’s MyBiotics look to microbiome to treat vaginal infection

Unit of Swiss multinational firm strikes multiyear strategic collaboration with Israeli life-sciences firm that cultures, ferments and delivers bacterial communities for healthcare

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustration of the human microbiome (Design Cells via iStock by Getty Images)
Illustration of the human microbiome (Design Cells via iStock by Getty Images)

A unit of Swiss multinational biopharmaceutical firm Ferring has entered into a multiyear strategic collaboration agreement with Israeli life sciences firm MyBiotics Pharma Ltd. to treat a common vaginal infection using drugs based on the microbiome.

The microbiome is the genetic material that makes up all of the microbes — bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses — that live inside the human body. The bacteria in the microbiome help us digest our food, regulate our immune system and protect us against diseases. Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection among women of reproductive age linked to increased risk of miscarriage and complications to pregnancy and fertility.

“The collaboration is an important step forward in harnessing the power of the human microbiome in this area of women’s health,” MyBiotics and Ferring’s Rebiotix Inc said in a statement on Wednesday.

Currently bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics, which can disrupt the vaginal microbiome, and it is common for bacterial vaginosis to return following treatment. The aim of a microbiome-based treatment is to reduce the need for antibiotic use and provide a long-term treatment solution, the statement said.

David Daboush, CEO and co-founder of MyBiotics (Courtesy)

MyBiotics has developed technologies to culture, ferment and deliver highly stable and diverse bacterial communities that can target different sites across the human body to restore the microbiome equilibrium, the statement said.

The technologies developed by MyBiotics are effective for the creation of single microbes, complex microbial consortia and whole microbiome products, the statement said. They use a computational AI platform, which enables the system to the design unique microbial consortia and whole microbiome profiles. The technologies are highly potent and suitable for patients with microbiome-related medical conditions, the statement said.

The company’s pipeline includes products targeted at infectious diseases, woman’s health, gastro and oncology indications, the statement said.

Researchers globally have been studying and using the power of the microbiome in medications for better health outcomes. The most clinically advanced formulations, derived from the human gut microbiome, are currently being developed to address Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection, an inflammation of the colon, and have opened the door to using the power of the microbiome to address other unmet medical needs, the statement said.

As research on microbiome-based therapeutics expands, efforts are now turning beyond the gut to reproductive medicine. The idea is to generate standardized, stabilized, approved microbiome-based drug formulations that will serve patient needs for reproductive purposes and maternal health.

The multi-year agreement combines MyBiotics’ culturing, delivery and colonization technologies, aimed at restoring microbiome equilibrium, with Rebiotix’s expertise in developing clinical-stage live microbiome-based biotherapeutic products and Ferring’s therapeutic development and commercial expertise, the statement said.

Ferring’s Ken Blount (Courtesy)

The new agreement builds on an existing collaboration between Ferring and MyBiotics, which started in 2017 and which has already successfully piloted technologies meant to stabilize selected bacterial species that are critical to the health of the female reproductive tract using MyBiotics’ technology.

“This collaboration with MyBiotics not only harnesses our collective expertise in developing live microbiota-based biotherapeutic technologies, but also reaffirms Ferring’s deep commitment to building families worldwide through innovations in reproductive medicine and maternal health,” said Ken Blount, chief scientific officer, Rebiotix, and vice president of microbiome research, Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

“Today’s agreement is an important evolution of our long-standing relationship with Ferring in the field of microbiota-based therapies for the benefit of women’s health, including reproduction and pregnancy,” said MyBiotics CEO and founder David Daboush, who set up the Rehovot-based firm in 2014.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Saint-Prex, Switzerland, is a global player in reproductive medicine and women’s health, developing treatments for mothers and babies for over 50 years. Founded in 1950, privately owned Ferring employs 6,500 people worldwide, has its own operating subsidiaries in nearly 60 countries, and markets its products in 110 countries.

Rebiotix is a late-stage clinical microbiome company focused on using the human microbiome to treat diseases. Its pipeline of investigational drug technologies seeks to potentially rehabilitate the human microbiome by delivering a broad consortium of live microbes into a patient’s intestinal tract.

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