Microbiome start-up Nextbiotix nets €7m to address gut-related disorders

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

French-based biotech start-up Nextbiotix has successfully raised €7m in a Series A financing round, to develop microbiome-based approaches that address inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The Dijon-based company, which was only founded at the end of 2016, has revealed plans to use the single microbial strain Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, ​as a starting point for regulating the immune system, with possibilities to address a number of inflammatory bowel conditions.

“We are delighted to have raised a first round of financing significant enough to support our efforts in bringing a revolutionary new class of medicines, called Live Biotherapeutics, to patients,” said​ Benjamin Hadida, CEO of Nextbiotix.

“Together we have managed to assemble a very robust and complementary team of investors bringing a wide range of expertise to the table.”

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii​ profile

The investors, which include Auriga Partners, Sofimac Innovation, Cap Innov’Est, INRA, and Biocodex, a firm focused on the gastroenterology and microbiota fields, have all expressed a vote in confidence for the microbe and its role in the human gut microbiota.

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii ​is considered one of the most abundant and important commensal bacteria native to the human gut, representing more than 5% of the bacteria in the intestine.

Lower than normal levels of F. prausnitzii​ recorded in the intestine have been linked with Crohn's disease, obesity, asthma and depression. Conversely, higher than average levels have been linked to the skin disorder psoriasis.

“We are very happy and proud to participate in this new venture in the microbiota realm, alongside recognized and esteemed founder experts,” ​commented Laurence Bougneres-Vermont from Auriga Partners, Jean-Briac Lesne from Sofimac Innovation, JeanFrançois Rax from Cap Innov’Est, Réjane Le Tinevez from INRA and Jean-Marie Lefevre from Biocodex.

“This innovative and promising therapeutic approach potentially offers new perspectives to patients and contributes to the fulfilment of unmet medical needs.”

Nextbiotix past and present

Nextbiotix’s origins can be traced back to the preclinical research conducted on the bacterium over the course of a decade by its three founding researchers: Professor Harry Sokol, gastroenterologist at the Hospital Saint-Antoine (AP-HP), Dr. Philippe Langella, Microbiologist and Director of Research at INRA, and Patrick Gervais, Professor Emeritus at AgroSup Dijon. 

Key to their success was the evidence attained that confirmed the loss of F. prausnitzii​ was linked to the onset of IBD. The chances of relapse also pointed towards its anti-inflammatory role.

A host of similar studies​ appear to confirm his finding as researchers suggest patients found to have a reduction of F. prausnitzii​ may benefit from probiotics or prebiotics to restore the “ecological balance​” of intestinal microbiota.

This latest round of financing is illustrative of recent activity within the microbiome field, in which UK biotech firm Microbiotica collaborated with Genentech, in a deal worth up to €452m to also develop microbiome-based approaches for irritable bowel disease (IBD) earlier this year.

Enterome, a biotech company looking into approaches to treat microbiome-associated diseases announced in January that it has raised €32m in a Series D financing. Investors that took part included Seventure, Omnes Capital and Nestlé Health Science alongside new venture investor Principia SGR and strategic investor Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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