Publish Date: 
Friday, June 7, 2019 - 09:45

Microba launches new IBD R&D program at BIO 

Microba have launched an R&D program at Bio in Philadelphia focused on the prevalent and incurable Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The program – launched by Queensland Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, Kate Jones - will develop gut microbiome derived therapeutics for IBD.

Microba CEO Blake Wills said that improved therapies for the long-term management of IBD were crucial and a currently unmet clinical need, with Australia having one of the highest incidences of IBD worldwide, affecting 1 in every 250 Australians, equating to over 80,000 people.

Using their world-leading DNA sequencing platform, Microba has identified distinct differences in the gut microbiome of healthy individuals and those with IBD. “These results give invaluable insights into the role of bacteria in disease progression and provide unique opportunities for the development of new therapeutics and diagnostic methods. Using deep learning artificial intelligence Microba is now able to predict IBD in patients from microbiome data alone with 86% accuracy”.  Mr Wills went on to explain that Microba had identified 21 bacterial species commonly found in healthy individuals but not detected in Crohn’s, and 20 in Ulcerative Colitis.

Microba researchers are now isolating these bacteria to study their role in the development of IBD and their potential therapeutic benefit. Initial screens have demonstrated that some of these bacteria show anti-inflammatory activity, thereby potentially promoting immune homeostasis and tolerance. The goal of this investigation is to identify bacteria, or by-products of these bacteria, that can be developed as a therapeutic to rapidly induce and maintain remission.

Minister for Innovation Kate Jones said this was another feather-in-the-cap for Queensland medical R&D. “I’m pleased to say that it was through a $100,000 Advance Queensland Fellowship that allowed Microba co-founder and lead bio-informatician Dr David Wood to set up the company,” Ms Jones said.

For more information on the program, please click here.