Commense Advances Microbiome Platform Targeting Early Childhood Health

Founding scientists and advisors named and exclusive worldwide
license obtained to prevent and treat disease through microbiome-based
interventions in early childhood

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Commense,
focused on preventing and treating disease through microbiome-based
interventions in infancy and early childhood, advances its discovery and
development platform, names its founding scientists and advisors and
executes an exclusive license in the microbiome field.

“A child’s early interactions with microbes can play an essential role
in health and are believed to impact the later development of serious
conditions such as asthma, food allergies, type 1 diabetes and
rheumatoid arthritis,” said David Steinberg, co-founder of Commense and
Executive Vice President at PureTech. “We are pleased to advance our
work in the early childhood microbiome with the expansion of our
pipeline and the addition of an esteemed group of advisors.”

Commense’s work builds on the decades of data supporting the “hygiene
hypothesis,” which suggests that a lack of early childhood exposure to
key microbes increases the risk of numerous early childhood diseases
common in developed countries. Commense is developing a pipeline of
novel therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of disease based on
a deep understanding of these human/microbe interactions and their
impact on health. Supporting this pipeline is Commense’s platform to
characterize and design microbiome-based therapeutics to potentially
restore these “missing microbes,” along with a suite of technologies
designed to improve measurement and diagnosis, delivery and microbial
colonization.

Exclusive Worldwide License
Commense has obtained an
exclusive, worldwide license from New York University on a key building
block of its platform, an approach focused on replenishing and
bolstering the microbial exposure that a baby experiences at birth
during passage through the birth canal. This technology is designed to
enable microbial transfer in newborns who may not receive the vaginal
microbiome, including those delivered by caesarian section (C-section).
The work supporting this technology is from the lab of Commense
co-founder and Scientific Advisory Board member Maria Gloria
Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone
Medical Center, and was published in the February 1, 2016 issue of Nature
Medicine
.

“Until very recently, every surviving mammal has been delivered through
the birth canal. In C-sections, the lack of the protective microbes with
which we’ve co-evolved could be very important for many conditions,
including diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease,
that we now know involve the microbiome,” said Dr. Rob Knight, a
coauthor of the Nature Medicine study, and a member of Commense’s
Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).

The study demonstrated that vaginal microbial transfer could be
performed to seed newborns delivered by C-section with microbes derived
from the mother’s birth canal, in a procedure mimicking natural birth.
This procedure enhanced the levels of potentially beneficial microbes
throughout the 30-day follow-up period. Commense is extending this
approach by developing microbial and non-microbial interventions that
could benefit millions of children each year worldwide.

“These extremely exciting initial data give promise to the hope that all
newborns might receive the potential health advantages of their mothers’
beneficial microbes, in a manner reminiscent of the now-established
benefits of fecal microbial transfers for C. difficile infections,”
said Dr. Dominguez-Bello. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and
positive response to the study by mothers, physicians, and researchers.”

Numerous studies have documented associations between C-sections and
increased rates of allergies, immune disorders, asthma, autism and
obesity. In the United States, about one in three babies is delivered by
C-section, and in some countries the rate of C-section exceeds 50
percent.

Founding Scientists and Advisors
Commense was co-founded by PureTech
Health
(“PureTech,” LSE: PRTC) and a group of the world’s leading
researchers in the field of the human microbiome and its role in infant
and maternal health. The founding scientists and advisors include:

  • Rob
    Knight, Ph.D.
    , (SAB Member) – Professor in the Department of
    Pediatrics and Professor Department of Computer Science and
    Engineering at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego);
    Director of UC San Diego’s Center for Microbiome Innovation;
    co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project and American Gut; pioneer
    of key computational and experimental techniques for characterizing
    and designing complex microbial communities in different ecosystems;
    author of TED book Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny
    Microbes;
  • Maria
    Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D.
    , (Scientific Co-Founder and SAB
    Member) – Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical
    Center; lead author of the Nature Medicine study and pioneer in
    characterizing and understanding microbial exposures early in life;
  • Martin
    J. Blaser, M.D.
    , (Scientific Co-Founder and SAB Member) –
    Professor of Microbiology, NYU Langone Medical Center; Director of the
    Human Microbiome Program; internationally recognized for his
    pioneering work in discovering the progressive loss of microbial
    diversity in the microbiota of people living in developed countries
    and its effects on health; and author of Missing Microbes: How the
    Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
    ;
  • B.
    Brett Finlay, Ph.D.
    , (Scientific Co-Founder and SAB Member) –
    Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of
    British Columbia; pioneer in understanding how loss of key microbes in
    children can affect disease, including atopic diseases and allergy;
    and author of forthcoming book Let Them Eat Dirt, which will
    explore how the microbes that inhabit our bodies influence childhood
    development;
  • Joseph
    St. Geme III, M.D.
    , (Advisor and SAB Member) – Physician-in-Chief
    and Chairman of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia;
    Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at the Perelman School of
    Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and leading clinician and
    researcher in the area of pediatric host-bacterial interactions; and
  • Sam
    Kass
    , (Advisor and Commense Board Member) – former Senior Policy
    Advisor for Nutrition Policy at the White House and former Executive
    Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! childhood
    health campaign.

“The more we learn about the microbiome, the more we realize how
fundamental it is to human health,” said Dr. Blaser. “We believe that
one of the most important windows of exposure to beneficial microbes is
at birth, so Commense represents a critical step forward for infants and
mothers.”

About Commense
Commense
is pioneering a deep understanding of the microbiome early in life and
its fundamental role in promoting a lifetime of health. Drawing insights
from natural exposures to beneficial microbes, Commense is developing
approaches to guide the priming, seeding, and maintaining of the
microbiome in infants and children. Co-founded by PureTech
Health
(“PureTech,” LSE: PRTC) and working with the world’s leading
microbiome scientists, physicians, and product developers, Commense is
developing a novel category of products to address critical unmet needs
in pediatric populations.

Forward Looking Statement
This press release contains
statements that are or may be forward-looking statements, including
statements that relate to the company’s future prospects, developments
and strategies. The forward-looking statements are based on current
expectations and are subject to known and unknown risks and
uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance and
achievements to differ materially from current expectations, including,
but not limited to, those risks and uncertainties described in the risk
factors included in the regulatory filings for PureTech Health plc.
These forward-looking statements are based on assumptions regarding the
present and future business strategies of the company and the
environment in which it will operate in the future. Each forward-looking
statement speaks only as at the date of this press release. Except as
required by law and regulatory requirements, neither the company nor any
other party intends to update or revise these forward-looking
statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or
otherwise.

Contacts

PureTech
Julie DiCarlo, +1-617-456-0032
Senior Vice
President, Communications and Investor Relations