The June Review: The M&A, licensing, and investments from last month

A new study helps to explain how nerve cells sense the microbes in the gut and how they coordinate their function with other tissues in the digestive tract.

June was a busy month for the microbiome space with multiple deals reported in probiotics, prebiotics, microbiome therapeutics and related biotech areas. Check out our highlights of the most important news and deals taking place last month:

·       Swiss biopharmaceutical player Debiopharm signed an exclusive license and research collaboration agreement with Takeda to develop novel microbiome therapeutics targeted to gastrointestinal disorders. Under the agreement, Takeda will screen and optimise compounds obtained from Debiopharm’s Debio 1454/M discovery pipeline program to identify candidates for further development for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. (Read our full coverage)

·       Global biosciences player Chr Hansen continued its acquisition spree with the $530 million buy-out of US probiotic leader UAS Labs. Chr Hansen said the acquisition will further strengthen and expand its global microbial platform and Human Health business, and aligns with the strategy of pursuing bolt-on acquisitions that fit into the microbial platform. The deal comes after Chr Hansen’s acquisition of Austria-based ​HSO Health Care, known for its specialism in probiotics for women, back in April.

·       Assembly Biosciences, a clinical-stage biotech developing therapeutics targeting hepatitis B virus (HBV) and diseases associated with the microbiome, said it had regained worldwide rights to all microbiome gastrointestinal programs licensed under its collaboration agreement with AbbVie. Assembly will now get back all microbiome candidates licensed out under the original 2017 deal with Allergan, including ABI-M201 and ABI-M301. That deal was $50 million upfront, plus success-based development and commercial milestone payments. The move to cancel the deal comes as AbbVie looks to cut out unwanted pacts and clean up its pipeline after a $63 billion acquisition of Allergan in May.

·       Enterome, a biotech specialized in the microbiome-immunoinflammation axis, completed €46.3 million ($52.6 million) financing to progress the clinical development of its therapeutic pipeline. As part of the financing the company closed a Series E round with new investors including SymBiosis, LLC, a microbiome-focused investment vehicle, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. Existing Enterome investors including Seventure, Health for Life Capital, Principia, Omnes Capital and Nestlé Health Science, also participated in the round. Further, Enterome made its first drawdown from a loan facility provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) under a 2018 agreement.

·       Danish enzymes and cultures specialist Novozymes sealed a deal to buy Irish probiotic specialist PrecisionBiotics in a deal worth €80m. The deal for the company, a 2002 spin-out from University College Cork, is Novozymes’ second acquisition of a probiotics company in recent years as it seeks to grow its human health business.

·       UK-based microbiome health specialist OptiBiotix Health said its ProBiotix Health has entered into a non-exclusive distribution agreement with Cambridge Commodities for the distribution of LPLDL and CholBiome X3 in the UK. The company also signed a recent deal with Italian specialist Actial Farmaceutica relating to distribution in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Thailand for its dietary supplements CholBiome and CholBiome X3.

·       Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) said it is awarding up to $1.82 million USD to Paris-based Eligo Bioscience – a preclinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering microbiome gene therapy. The award includes additional funding of up to $7 million if project milestones are me, for the development of a new generation of highly-specific antimicrobials to prevent multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections in organ transplant patients. Eligo’s technology transforms bacteriophages into safe, non-replicative DNA-delivery vectors. The vectors are programmed to inject a synthetic DNA payload directly into the target bacterial populations of the patient’s gastrointestinal tract.