Gates-Backed NYC Startup Plumbs Soil Bacteria for Tuberculosis Therapy

Monday, January 11, 2016

Countless therapeutics – and certainly our earliest ones – were discovered from  natural sources. Lodo Therapeutics, a new small molecule drug discovery startup based in New York City, is basing its platform on this premise: It will develop medicines that can be produced by uncultured soil bacteria and the human microbiome, chasing global health indications like tuberculosis.

The company just raised $17 million from a pool of high profile investors – most notably, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has sponsored the underlying research for the company since 2014.

This research comes from the labs of cofounder Dr. Sean Brady, head of The Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules. He posits:

One of the key revelations from the large-scale sequencing of bacterial genomic DNA is that the approaches traditionally used for identifying new natural products only provide functional access to a small fraction of the biosynthetic gene clusters present in nature. These studies indicate that essentially all bacteria — from those with fully sequenced genomes to those not yet cultured — are rich sources of unstudied natural product biosynthetic gene clusters.

On top of tuberculosis, the company’s broadly chasing indications in the fields of cancer, metabolic disorders and rare diseases. The company has entered a license agreement with The Rockefeller University to build out its platform.

“More than half of all small molecule drugs for cancer, infections and Type 2 diabetes today are derived from natural products, representing significant promise of this approach for patients,” Brady said in a statement. “Our genome-based, culture-independent approach exploits the power of microbial evolution to identify therapeutically valuable natural products.”

David Pompliano, a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners, will come on board as chief scientific officer.

Source: MedCity News (link opens in a new window)

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