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Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Join $27M Funding for Vedanta Bio

Xconomy Boston — 

Microbiome drug developer Vedanta Biosciences has raised $27 million in funding to press forward with clinical trials for four therapeutic candidates.

Vedanta’s experimental treatments are compositions of live bacteria that the Cambridge, MA, company says trigger a targeted immune response. By shifting the ecosystem of gut bacteria, Vedanta says its therapies can potentially treat autoimmune and allergic diseases, as well as cancer.

The company’s most advanced drug candidate, VE303, has started a Phase 2 study for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, an infection of the gut. The clinical trial is expected to enroll up to 146 patients who have completed a course of antibiotics treatment but remain at risk of reinfection. The main goal of the study, which will test two doses of the Vedanta drug against a placebo, is the prevention of the recurrence of infection.

Three more Vedanta therapies are in earlier stages of development. Vedanta has partnered with Janssen Biotech in a Phase 1 study testing VE202 as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. A study testing VE416 in an unspecified food allergy is slated to start in the first quarter of 2019. A Phase 1/2 study testing VE800 in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (NYSE: BMY) nivolumab (Opdivo) as a treatment for advanced cancers is expected to start in the middle of next year.

Investors in the Series C round of financing included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers, Invesco Asset Management, Rock Springs Capital, and Seventure Partners. PureTech Health, which formed Vedanta in 2010, also participated in the latest financing.

Vedanta is one of a number of companies pursuing microbiome drugs. Cambridge-based Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB) is also targeting recurrent C. difficile infection with its therapy SER-109, currently in Phase 3 testing. The lead drug candidate from South San Francisco, CA-based Second Genome, SGM-1019, is being prepared for Phase 2 studies as a treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). UBiome, another Bay Area biotech, raised $83 million in Series C financing in September to support its microbiome drugs research and development.

Here’s more on Vedanta, which raised $50 million two years ago.

Public domain image of Clostridium difficile by Janice Carr of the CDC