Bayer and Azitra partnership looks to develop skin microbiome products for eczema

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Staphylococcus epidermidis Bacteria. ©Bayer
Staphylococcus epidermidis Bacteria. ©Bayer

Related tags: Bayer, Azitra, Skin, Staphylococcus epidermidis

German pharma firm Bayer is to enter a joint development agreement with Azitra that uses the skin microbiome as a basis for new skin care products that address a range of skin conditions.

The newly-formed partnership will focus on Azitra’s Staphylococcus epidermidis​ strains and their potential as a main bioactive component in a new range of Bayer-developed skincare products under a future License Agreement.

Possible areas of application include medicated skin care products for sensitive, eczema-prone skin as well as therapeutic products for skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

“The skin microbiome offers a promising platform for the development and commercialization of natural skin care products more and more people are looking for,”​ says Heiko Schipper, member of Bayer’s management board and president of Bayer Consumer Health.

“As Bayer is committed to the development of science-based consumer health products through our own research as well as external partnerships, we’re delighted to collaborate with Azitra.

“The company has already demonstrated tolerability of a selected Staphylococcus epidermidis strain in healthy volunteers and is now planning to start the clinical demonstration of efficacy.”

Acne, rosacea and more

Staphylococcus epidermidis ​has been the focus of several studies that suggest a significant role in the protection of the skin from hostile invasions.

Additional positive effects include supporting the recovery from skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, acne, and rosacea, and may also accelerate wound healing.

DSM are amongst handful of firms looking into the benefits of this strain as its skin bioactive Pentavitin (US only) targets Staphylococcus epidermidis ​present in the scalp microbiome to hydrate the area and reduce dry skin.

DSM also make available its Syn-Up product (US only) – a peptide ingredient that addresses dry skin conditions and skin redness by interacting with the skin microbiome.

The ingredient appears to inhibit urokinase and plasmin, whilst boosting levels of Staphylococcus Epidermidis​ and reducing Corynebacterium Kroppenstedtii​ levels.

Also, in this space is medical dermatology company Azitra, which counts its alliance with Bayer as the first of many, with Bayer looking to use Azitra’s genetically modified bacteria in dermatology, nutritionals and digestive health applications at a later date.

"We are strongly committed to the potential of the microbiome to provide significant benefits for improved skin health and appearance and by working together with Bayer I am confident we can deliver on the promise of this technology,"​ says Richard Andrews, President and CEO of Azitra.

Targeted approach

Founded in 2014 by scientists from Yale University, the Connecticut-based firm recently spoke about its approach to addressing disease targets with ‘microbial darts,’ a concept that homes in on the mechanism of action of one microbe rather than the entire microbial community.

Focusing on the natural anti-inflammatory characteristics of S. epidermidis, and its ability to inhibit inflammatory-promoting species Staphylococcus aureus​, Azitra’s scientists create versions of the bacteria that can deliver a human protein lacking in patients with eczema.

“When you take a targeted approach, you can target a problem … with a well-designed, targeted therapy. That’s the Azitra approach,”​ Andrews says​.

“Research shows eczema is characterised by high levels of pro-inflammatory Staph aureus on the skin.

“Using their “supercharged” S. epidermidis, Azitra can not only target the defective skin barrier, but also help resolve the inflammation caused by S. aureus by reducing it on the skin.

“And because it’s a microbiome product, it has the potential to be a sustained effect,”​ Andrews adds.

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