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Bio-Me Awarded $2.2M to Develop Microbiome Biomarker Test for Cancer Immunotherapy

NEW YORK ─ Bio-Me said Wednesday it has received €2 million ($2.2 million) in grants and public funding from the Norwegian Research Council to develop a companion diagnostic test for immune checkpoint inhibitor cancer treatments.

Its development involves key Norwegian and international partners and a collaboration between leading clinical experts and academic researchers in the field, Bio-Me said. 

All major hospitals treating lung cancer in Norway are involved in a study that will investigate more than 1,000 patients diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, the firm said. The study is a collaboration between Oslo-based Bio-Me and its R&D partners Vestre Viken Hospital Trust, NTNU/HUNT4 Biobank, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Bio-Me is using its Precision Microbiome Profiling (PMP) gut microbiome analysis tool developed in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific. PMP uses qPCR technology as part of a targeted approach to microbiome profiling and enables the analysis of around 200 samples in about two hours, the company said.

"By having access to large cohorts of patients from different studies, in combination with proprietary panels of target bacteria, Bio-Me will be in a unique position to further the understanding regarding which bacteria are associated with responders and non-responders to ICI treatment," Morten Isaksen, CEO of Bio-Me, said in a statement. "Used in combination with microbiome-modifying agents – of which several are in development – [the approach] has the potential to lift patient response rates from 30 percent to over 80 percent."

Isaksen said Bio-Me is evaluating potential partners who have suitable microbiome-modifying agents for this purpose.

Bio-Me said the development project will run to the end of 2023, and a diagnostic test is expected to be available soon thereafter.