A company called Evelo Therapeutics launched today with a plan to create a variety of cancer treatments based on bacteria found in the microbiome. The microbiome is an environment consisting of trillions of micro-organisms living in the body that contributes to overall health.
Evelo, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received $35 million in funding from the venture capital firm Flagship Ventures to study oncobiotic therapeutics. The startup will explore what role these microbial agents play in the formation of cancer, according to FierceBiotech.
Evelo’s approach could take a couple different forms, reports Stat News.
One avenue would be to test how specific kinds of bacteria inhibit tumor metabolism by competing for nutrients. Another approach would use bacterial infusions to transform a tumor’s immediate surroundings into a less hospitable environment for growth.
A third tactic being considered by Evelo would gage how bacteria triggers the immune system to attack tumor cells.
Microbiome research over the past several years has typically found solutions for gut diseases, like fending off infection from Clostridium difficile bug, writes Xconomy.
However, Stat News notes that the science behind the microbiome is still complex and that manufacturing cancer therapies may be more difficult than it seems.
Harvard epidemiologist Bill Hanage expressed skepticism to the publication of the likelihood of “trying to manipulate the big and complicated immune system by using the big and complicated microbiome.”