Speaking to NutraIngredients recently, Georges Rawadi, CEO of LNC Therapeutics said discussions with Cornell University about its Christensenella patent family commenced very shortly after he joined the company earlier this year.
Earlier this year, Rawadi told NutraIngredients the Bordeaux-based company would shift its focus away from nutrition and towards drug development and microbiome therapeutics. As such the exclusive license agreement with Cornell will help LNC to continue its strategy for developing therapeutic approaches based on Christensenella – a recently discovered family of gut bacteria.
“We will be focusing going forward all of our efforts on developing bio-therapeutics based on the microbiome, and our first programme in that space is Christensenella,” said Rawadi – noting that the commensal bacteria have been shown to be associated with lean mass, while the absence of Christensenella has been linked to higher BMI, pre-diabetes, and an increase in many metabolic disease markers in human cohorts.
While LNC has filed IP in the space itself, Cornell University had also filed a family of patents in the space, noted the CEO – who described the IP from Cornell as 'complementary' to LNC's own portfolio.
Indeed, Rawadi noted that LNC has filed multiple patents on the modulation of Christensenella to fight obesity, while the IP from Cornell is focused on the direct use of the bacteria to modulate obesity and metabolic diseases.
“That is why those two patents, or patent families, complement each other very well,” he told us. “Because one deals with the modulation of the bacteria and the other one deals with the direct use of the bacteria.”
“We are covering a larger spectrum of applications around Christensenella, and how this could be beneficial in some diseases.”
Rawadi added that the aim of the deal is to create a very strong IP position, which makes LNC the 'must have' partner for any third parties that would like to use Christensenella for potential applications - adding that the deal also gives the company “freedom to operate with the bacteria for our own programmes.”
“Expanding our intellectual property is essential in order for us to successfully pursue our vision and our development strategy,” said the LNC CEO.
“Securing a license for the Christensenella patent has reinforced our existing intellectual property portfolio. It’s a key step in establishing our leadership position for the Christensenella family and anticipating its future therapeutic applications.”
Rawadi noted that while LNC Therapeutics will not disclose the full details of the financial arrangement, due to their confidential nature, the deal is structured like many biotech deals - involving a combination of upfront payments, milestone payments, and royalties associated with the development.
LNC aims to use this license to develop the first Christensenella -based drug candidate for the treatment of obesity and metabolic disorders, he said.
In parallel, LNC says it will leverage its research platform dedicated to studying the family of bacteria in order to gain deeper insight into how it operates and understand how it interacts with host cells.
“We strongly believe that Christensenella has a wide therapeutic potential that goes beyond obesity and metabolic disorders. We are therefore considering the possibility of broadening our fields of application,” Rawadi added.