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Enterome, Nestle Health Science Form Microbiome Dx JV

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Enterome and Nestle Health Science announced today that they have formed a new company to develop microbiome diagnostics for multiple indications including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and liver disorders.

The startup — called Microbiome Diagnostics Partners (MDP) — will be a 50/50 joint venture between the companies. Paris-based Enterome will contribute its existing microbiome diagnostic programs and intellectual property for use in all disease areas excluding immuno-oncology. Nestle Health Sciences will contribute the diagnostic development and commercialization expertise of its Prometheus Laboratories subsidiary.

Additionally, Nestle Health Sciences has agreed to invest €20 million ($22.8 million) into MDP in exchange for exclusive commercialization options on the joint venture's initial programs, and will make undisclosed milestones payments to MDP based on the achievement of certain clinical and commercial goals.

MDP's board will be chaired by Enterome CEO Pierre Belichard. Warren Cresswell, general manager and head of diagnostics at Prometheus, will join MDP's board and serve as its CEO.

MDP's first R&D programs will center on diagnostics for the assessment and management of IBD using Enterome's microbiome-derived mucosal healing biomarker IBD110, as well as diagnostic products for progressive liver diseases such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, based on another Enterome biomarker called MET210. Prometheus will contribute serum-based biomarkers to both programs.

"The MDP joint venture will leverage Enterome's microbiome-based platforms in diagnostic areas, while Enterome will continue to focus on their application for the discovery of novel small molecule therapeutics," Belichard said in a statement.

Nestle Health Science CEO Greg Behar added that the new firm represents an "important facet of our strategy to advance the therapeutic role of nutrition, and we see also new opportunities being created for personalized nutrition both for the healthy population and for patients. The two initial programs have great potential to become differentiated diagnostics."

Nestle Health Science previously invested in Enterome through its €14.5 million Series C financing round last year.