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Persephone Biosciences Enrolls First Patient in Study of Microbiome Effect on Cancer Drug Response

NEW YORK – Persephone Biosciences said this week that it has enrolled the first patient in its observational ARGONAUT study assessing the impact of the gut microbiome on cancer treatment efficacy.

The longitudinal, prospective study will enroll up to 4,000 patients with advanced solid tumors including non-small cell lung cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Persephone will enroll a diverse cohort of individuals of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and follow them for eight years. The company will also collect at least two blood samples and two stool samples from patients over two years, on which it will perform metagenomic WGS and multiomic analyses. 

ARGONAUT investigators will use large-scale, high-throughput data collection techniques and machine learning to generate insights on how microbiome composition impacts patients' immune systems and immunotherapy or chemotherapy responses. 

San Diego-based Persephone hopes ARGONAUT will inform its efforts to develop therapeutics that optimize the gut microbiome to improve responses to cancer treatments and microbiome-centered companion diagnostics that guide treatment decisions. Persephone has partnered with Janssen to study colorectal cancer patients in ARGONAUT as well enroll an additional cohort of healthy people with varied cancer risk. According to Persephone, it has just enrolled the first patient into one of these Janssen-partnered study arms.

"I am thankful to the participants enrolling in our ARGONAUT study who are helping Persephone achieve our ambition of better understanding the human gut microbiome and its role in cancer development and treatment outcomes," Persephone CEO and Cofounder Stephanie Culler said in a statement. "We continue to welcome expressions of interest from third parties for the study's prospective arms covering non-small cell lung cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer."