Shares of Seres Therapeutics Inc (Nasdaq:MCRB) rocketed Monday thanks to its announcement of a new research collaboration with AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) to advance understanding of how bacteria in the gut can improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
As part of the three-year partnership, Seres will assess the extent to which the body's bacteria or the microbiome can help to predict which patients respond best to certain cancer immunotherapies.
The two companies will also evaluate SER-401, Seres’ microbiome therapy, together with AstraZeneca compounds, in targeting various cancers.
Investors were impressed by the tie-up and Seres shares closed up nearly 25% to finish at $6.38 Monday.
“We are very pleased to be collaborating with AstraZeneca, a global leader in oncology, to advance the development of potential microbiome-based therapies for cancer. Through the activities under this collaboration and in our SER-401 Phase 1b clinical study in metastatic melanoma, we hope to meaningfully advance our understanding of the potential for microbiome therapeutics to magnify the impact of cancer immunotherapy,” said Eric Shaff, CEO of Seres, in a statement.
Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will pay Seres $20 million and reimburse the smaller biotech for research activity related to the collaboration.
Seres will keep its rights to its oncology-targeted microbiome therapies and AstraZeneca will have the option to negotiate for rights to those programs and inventions arising out of the deal.
Early clinical results suggest that the make-up of the gastrointestinal microbiome may influence the effectiveness of checkpoint inhibitor therapies, which impede the capability of cancer cells to evade attack from the immune system, Seres said in its release.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Seres is a microbiome-focused therapeutics platform company developing a class of drugs that treat diseases by addressing imbalances in bacteria.
Its therapy SER 109 targeting the infection Clostridium difficile is in Phase 3 trials and has been tagged with breakthrough and orphan drug designations by the US Food and Drug Administration. SER 401, meanwhile, is in clinical development to boost the effectiveness of immune-oncology treatments and SER 287 is in a Phase 2b study taking aim at ulcerative colitis.
Contact Ellen Kelleher at [email protected]