Guest post by Eric de La Fortelle, Venture Partner at Seventure Partners
Microbes are everywhere, and apart from the occasional pathogen, they are a positive force for health maintenance. Indeed the ‘war on microbes’ of the last fifty years (antiseptics on skin, antibiotics in our bloodstream, food preservatives in our digestive system) largely contributed to the spread of chronic diseases in our societies.
Help is on its way. Recent discoveries of the biological mechanisms behind the elegant symbiosis of microbes and higher species (including man) jumped from the laboratory to the popular press in a matter of months, contributing to a rapid surge of interest in the topic. These academic discoveries are being rapidly translated from academic research to biotech companies developing products for functional nutrition, clinical nutrition, over-the-counter therapeutics and prescription drugs. These products take many forms: live bacteria administered orally or even intravenously; bacteriophages acting as highly specific antibiotics, but also the more classical pharmaceutical tools of small molecules, peptides and antibodies peptides. Understanding microbiome biology can also lead to diagnostic insights and products.
The rapidly-increasing number of startups developing products in this field operate at the interface between nutrition and drug discovery, and navigate novel regulatory paths. Many of the economic actors, while they recognize the potential of those novel product category, hesitate to commit resources early, preferring to wait for the first clear successes.
Seventure Partners is an acknowledged leader for venture investment in microbiome-based products, largely via its EUR 160 million Health for Life Capital investment fund. Using its strategic insights in this field, it authored a new report entitled “The human microbiome : A new protagonist in managing human health.“ This short read (22 pages, many figures) is aimed at the generalist economic decision maker. It gives an overview of the field, including quantitative analyses, and through interviews with a broad range of thought leaders in the field, aims to understand the key questions for future value creation : how to turn these fast-paced scientific discoveries into useful products, and what is the substance behind the current hype.
The report will be released at BIO-Europe Spring® 2017 in Barcelona this week during the program panel “Key considerations in microbiome partnering” moderated by Mike Ward of Informa Pharma Insights and featuring panelists Michel De Baar, Executive Director, BD&L, Infectious Diseases & Vaccines, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases at MSD; Eric De La Fortelle; Xavier Aldeguer Mauté, Co-Founder and Medical Advisor at Goodgut; and Mariona Serra-Pagés, CEO at Goodgut.