Digging up the dirt: Roche and Lodo ink soil-based discovery deal
- Roche company Genentech has signed a collaboration deal with Lodo Therapeutics to use the 2015 startup's genome mining and biosynthetic technology to discover natural products with potential as therapeutics.
- Lodo will pick up an undisclosed upfront payment and could receive research, development and commercialization milestone payments worth up to $969 million, as well as tiered royalties.
- The startup, which identifies and produces bioactive natural products from the microbial DNA sequence information contained in the soil microbiome, grew out of the Rockefeller University's Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules.
Historically, natural products are a common starting point for many drugs — aspirin came from willow bark, antibiotics originated in fungi and many cancer drugs have arisen from plants and microbes from the land and sea.
However, the process of discovery can be slow and overly relies on serendipity. By taking a genome-based approach, Lodo Therapeutics says it can speed up the process and lower the cost of finding compounds that have potential in cancer and drug-resistant bacterial infections.
"Our ability to enter into a strategic collaboration with one of the leaders in innovating wholly new classes of drugs just two years after Lodo Therapeutics was founded reflects the potential of our proprietary platform to be a valuable resource to advance their drug discovery initiatives," said David Pompliano, co-founder and chief strategic officer of Lodo Therapeutics.
Many antibiotics have come from soil microorganisms. The biodiversity in the soil is vast, meaning there still is further potential for discovery. For its work, Lodo seeks out soil samples from different environmental conditions throughout the U.S., especially from the Midwest, the South and the Rocky Mountain states.
Lodo isn't the only drug discovery company interested in digging in the dirt, though. NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals is also working on hard-to-culture and uncultured microorganisms, including from the soil, as potential sources for new drugs. Its portfolio includes several preclinical projects including teixobactin, a peptidoglycan synthesis inhibitor antibiotic, and Novo10, a potential anticancer candidate.
Follow Suzanne Elvidge on Twitter