Zeev Zehavi , Vice President, Venture Investments, Johnson & Johnson Innovation–JJDC, Inc.(JJDC).
Dirk Gevers, PhD, Global Head, Janssen Human Microbiome Institute, Janssen Research & Development, LLC (Janssen). June 6th, 2017
The microbiome represents a dramatically new frontier of medicine, with advances occurring in parallel across many modalities and disease areas. Only now are we beginning to uncover the applications of microbiome innovation. The gut microbiome, for example, can be linked to an array of health issues – from brain disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to infant gut health.
And this field is growing quickly. The number of microbiome-focused start-ups is increasing, investors are taking notice of promising companies, and the pharmaceutical industry is placing big bets as well, accelerating collaborations in research and development with many cutting-edge companies.
Across the various sectors of the Johnson & Johnson enterprise, we are pursuing a host of opportunities to translate microbiome science into human health solutions to treat disease and maintain health. We have supported a number of microbiome-focused residents at various JLABS facilities – providing wet lab space and coaching – and forged deals to advance the most promising products and technologies.
Underscoring the vast potential in this field, JJDC co-led an investment with Janssen Immunology and its IBD team in BiomX, Ltd., a pioneering microbiome therapeutics company. BiomX is developing novel therapeutics to help alleviate human diseases that stem from dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance, of the microbiome. Its drug pipeline consists of candidates with the potential to treat acne, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. The Series A financing round is designed to help BiomX advance its pipeline of drugs toward clinical development.
BiomX is unique in that it offers a complete end-to-end solution from target discovery to therapeutic compound development. By adding or removing specific bacteria, its technology fine-tunes the microbiome in ways that restore microbial balance for the benefit of individuals.
The company was founded in FutuRx, Ltd., an Israel-based incubator established by JJDC, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and OrbiMed. Israel is a growing hotbed of biomedical innovation, and we’re seeing great promise with local companies who are mining the microbiome to improve human health. Just earlier this year, the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute (JHMI) announced collaborations with Israel-based partners DayTwo Ltd. and the Weizmann Institute of Science, which are focused on advancing next-generation microbial products.
The microbiome offers an unprecedented opportunity to change the future of healthcare, and JJDC and Janssen are at the forefront of partnerships and research and development to nurture innovation and help bring the most exciting scientific discoveries forward. We aim to provide ongoing opportunities for collaboration with entrepreneurs at all stages and across the world because we know that a great idea can come from anywhere.
Are you leveraging the microbiome to improve human health? Apply for the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS and JHMI Bugs, Drugs & Beyond QuickFire Challenge. Selected companies can pitch their idea, product or technology in San Francisco or Boston for the chance to win a customized package of support from the JHMI and JLABS.