Microbiotica is a microbiome-based therapeutics spun out of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, while Genentech is a member of the Roche Group.

As part of the multi-year collaboration, Microbiotica will use its metagenomics microbiome platform to analyse patient samples from clinical trials of Genentech’s investigational IBD medicines to discover microbiome biomarker signatures of drug response, novel IBD drug targets and live bacterial therapeutic products.

As per terms of the deal, Microbiotica will secure an undisclosed upfront payment, as well as eligible to receive research, development and commercialisation milestone payments up to $534m based on achievement of certain predetermined milestones.

Microbiotica will also secure royalties on sales of certain products resulting from the collaboration.

Genentech is provided with option to license assets, which Microbiotica develops from the research collaboration.

Genentech Partnering global head and senior vice president James Sabry said: “We have chosen to collaborate with Microbiotica because of its high-quality science and look forward to working together to potentially bring new medicines to people suffering from IBD.”

Microbiotica platform includes microbiome culture collection and linked reference genome database, which helps in gut bacterial identification at clinical trial scale.

Via its industrial culturing and sequencing pipeline, the company provides clinical trial samples for strain-level identification of bacteria.

The complex datasets developed from such studies are analysed using AI techniques to discern microbiome signatures linked to phenotype.

The physical culture collection allows biological assessment of bacteria in translational models such as humanised microbiome mouse models.

Microbiotica CEO Dr Mike Romanos said: “This collaboration reflects Microbiotica’s strategy of utilising its platform for medicines and biomarker discovery while simultaneously expanding platform capabilities.

“Whilst Genentech will retain rights to proprietary biomarkers, targets and medicines, the collaboration will enable Microbiotica to continue to rapidly expand its already leading Reference Genome Database and Culture Collection, further strengthening its value across all therapeutic areas.”