The collaboration with Prota Therapeutics, an oral immunotherapy developer, will look at Chr. Hansen’s LGG probiotic strain and its potential to reprogram the immune system’s response to peanuts and eventually develop tolerance.
“It is a partnership aiming at successfully bringing Prota Therapeutics’ drug candidate, as one of two active pharmaceutical ingredients alongside LGG, as to a Phase 3 clinical trial that will yield clinical data in 3 years,” said Thomas Gundelund Rasmussen, human health and microbiome innovation director.
“Prota will then move ahead with a drug registration if the outcome is positive.”
Prota Therapeutics is investigating a new oral immunotherapy treatment that combines Chr. Hansen’s probiotic strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
The Phase III clinical trial—one of the first to involve a live microorganism—builds on earlier trials conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute based in Melbourne, Australia.
Under a US Investigational New Drug Application (IND), the aim is to develop a medicinal product using a new pharmaceutical grade therapeutic dosage form for treating peanut allergy, and to explore indications for treating other food allergies.
“In infant products the potential of LGG in reducing the risk of cow milk allergy has been described,” Rasmussen explained.
“The work with Prota Thearpeutics is a clear demonstration of the power of using probiotics also in drugs for treating food allergies.”
Recasting the gut microbiome
A recent feature published in Nature Reviews: Drug discovery describes how the gut microbiome’s scale and diversity has been recast as a 'new organ' vital in addressing gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes and obesity.
With firms including Ritter Pharmaceuticals and Synthetic Biologics actively exploring prebiotic or contrabiotic compounds for gastrointestinal indications, the feature believes the first wave of therapies could be approved for gastrointestinal diseases amongst others.
This may be followed by a second wave in metabolic diseases (such as obesity and diabetes), and eventually for neurological diseases with the highest unmet needs.
“We clearly see that the pharmaceutical and food industries are converging in several areas,” said Rasmussen.
“ In the market we see there are both a number of dietary supplements that do not bring the benefits that they claim, and others that are now being investigated for their potential even as drugs, as is the case with LGG.
“We see a strengthening trend in the market towards a need for more solid demonstration of the claimed benefit behind and at the same time new opportunities for the use probiotics in drugs. The latter is accelerated by the scientific breakthroughs in the microbiome.”
Chr Hansen’s microbial platform
The collaboration with Australian-based Prota Therapeutics is the latest in Chr Hansen’s efforts to strengthen its microbial platform.
In 2016, where Chr. Hansen fully acquired LGG from Valio, the firm also paired with Caelus Health to develop Eubacterium hallii as a probiotic useful for the prevention and treatment of metabolic disease.
Chr. Hansen’s work in the microbiome further extended in 2017 with the news that it had added the probiotic strains Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium hallii, to its microbial strain library.
The company said that the strains would be made available to external partners and customers “looking to accelerate development of next-generation probiotics.”
“An effective therapy to treat peanut allergies is now a realistic target,” said Dr. Suzanne Lipe, CEO at Prota Therapeutics.
“As the owner of LGG, Chr. Hansen has demonstrated the capability to deliver a pharmaceutical product that can be regulated as a biological therapeutic product.
“Together with our proprietary peanut protein formulation, we aim to progress this through to commercialization of a treatment for peanut allergies.”