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IP Group creates Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute spin-out Microbiotica

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

IP Group, a developer of intellectual property-based businesses, has announced the creation of Microbiotica, a newly formed spin-out company from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute established to commercialize the Sanger Institute’s ground-breaking research into the role of the human microbiome in disease.

IP Group is co-leading this investment with Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), a Cambridge-based investor in technology and healthcare companies in which IP Group is a shareholder, with a £4 million contribution from each party to provide total initial funding of £8 million. This reflects IP Group and CIC’s ongoing partnership under which they share information on investment and co-investment opportunities in the Cambridge Cluster.

Recognition of the importance to human health of the trillions of bacteria that reside in the human intestine—known as the gut microbiome—has created major opportunities in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases including cancer, infection and metabolic, neurological and autoimmune disorders. The Sanger Institute team, led by Dr Trevor Lawley, has been at the forefront of this research, having built one of the world’s most extensive collections of cultured human gut bacteria with associated genome analysis, along with humanized models for the development of therapeutics based on live bacteria. Microbiotica has been granted unique access to these resources and will use the funding from IP Group and CIC to establish labs within the Wellcome Genome Campus at Hinxton, Cambridge, and to progress multiple live bacteriotherapy programs into development.

Sam Williams, head of Biotech at IP Group, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with both CIC and the Sanger Institute to develop what promises to be an exciting new commercial approach to the microbiome. By exploring the fundamentals of gut flora distribution and genetics, Microbiotica has an opportunity to take a lead in understanding how the microbiome can be used to not only develop new therapeutics for a range of diseases, but also how to stratify patients according to their microbial profile, identify links with disease and exploit its full potential for human healthcare. This investment reflects IP Group’s approach to new company formation in the biotech sector, backing only the science which promises to bring about revolutionary approaches to human medicine and the teams that can deliver them.”

Microbiotica’s science will be directed by Dr. Lawley, who will be chief scientific officer. The company will be led by Dr. Mike Romanos who, as chief executive officer, brings a wealth of experience as a seasoned drug discoverer and entrepreneur in the biotech sector. Dr. Romanos previously held senior global roles in GSK and, as CEO, built Crescendo Biologics. Both CIC and IP Group will each appoint a director to the board of Microbiotica.

Mike Romanos, CEO of Microbiotica, said, “It has been a privilege to work with my co-founders to create the concept of Microbiotica as a leading player in microbiome-based therapeutics. We are very excited to be working with IP Group and CIC to now turn the vision into reality as we start to build the company, based at the Wellcome Genome Campus, leveraging the strengths of the Sanger Institute to create new medicines.”

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