Treating IBD by rebalancing the gut microbiome

Everyone has a mix of microbes in their gut, some of which are beneficial and others that can wreak havoc—especially in people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Thanks, in part, to funding through IBD Ventures (our venture philanthropy program), researchers at Vedanta Biosciences are currently developing a cocktail of several strains of living bacteria (a live biotherapeutic product, or LBP) designed to flood the gut with enough beneficial bacteria to outcompete a harmful strain (Klebsiella pneumoniae) and other bacteria that have been linked to IBD flares.

“Klebsiella typically lives in the mouth since it can tolerate a little bit of oxygen, but in IBD patients it’s often found in the intestines because inflammation may lead to increased oxygen levels,” says Bernat Olle, PhD, cofounder and chief executive officer of Vedanta Biosciences. Once Klebsiella and other harmful bacteria take root in the intestines, they kick off an immune response that leads to more inflammation and worsening symptoms.

“What we’ve been doing with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is identifying and testing combinations of good bacteria that, together, can kick out the ones that cause inflammation,” says Olle. “We’ve already found combination that work in mice, but we want to identify the optimal composition and number of bacteria before we advance to studies in humans to eventually develop a prescription drug.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Under the Microscope, our research and news updates bulletin sent to Foundation members twice a year. Under the Microscope includes a variety of relevant information such as new research projects, clinical trials, conference notes, and breaking news about partnerships and grants. You can receive Under the Microscopy by becoming a Foundation member and making a donation here