The Antibiotic Crisis is Real, and It's Almost Here.
We're Trying to Help.
Our First Target is Acne.
The focus of most microbiome efforts is to discover beneficial bacteria to add to the microbiome, in order to cure disease or maintain health. However others lack a subtractive function that can remove harmful or disease-causing bacteria, that would allow the microbiome to rebalance and achieve a stable healthy state. Using bacteriophages as a foundation, we are developing a powerful platform that allows us to selectively 'subtract' bad bacteria without harming the good strains present in the community. It's a bit like using a sniper instead of a grenade to take out a bad guy in a crowd of people.
Acne is a nearly universal condition that affects more than 80% of all people worldwide. This chronic skin condition is complex, but the main etiological agent is Propionibacterium acnes whose overgrowth leads to inflammation that causes pimples. Despite a clear need for innovation there hasn't been a novel acne drug in over 30 years. Current treatments including benzoyl peroxide (OTC) and antibiotics (Rx) are quite ineffective, and the most effective treatment--isotretinoin--is limited to a small set of patients due to dangerous side effects (birth defects, liver damage, suicide). A novel drug that is both safe and effective is needed.
Since our objective is to replace the acne-causing pathogen with a probiotic bacteria, we have two components. First is the Microbiome Editor, a biologic that can selectively kill only the bad bacteria that cause acne. Second, we are developing probiotic bacteria to replace the niche of the killed pathogen. This approach avoids the problems of rampant drug resistance associated with antibiotics. The presence of actively dividing probiotic bacteria will prevent relapses by not allowing any pathogens to grow back. In this way, we can recalibrate the acne microbiome to a healthy state.
Microbiome research is a burgeoning field that examines the mostly invisible community of microorganisms that live in (and on) our body. These bacteria outnumber us 10 to 1, and play a critical role in regulating our health and wellness in a number of cases. As we learn more about how the microbiome shapes our health, we realize that an army of good bacteria (commensals) wage a constant war on our behalf to protect us from pathogens. Indiscriminate antibiotic use causes long-term damage to these commensals, and has led us to a crisis point where common bacteria are now extremely drug-resistant and taking us to a pre-antibiotic age.
Our technology offers a solution to this crisis, and by developing an agile and highly responsive platform that ensures a solution to drug-resistant bacteria, we are diversifying our medical arsenal against pathogens and deadly diseases.
OneStart Finalists, 2015
EppiCon Winner, 2017
Haas Healthcare Winner, 2018