Study published in Cell demonstrates causal link between seizure susceptibility and the microbiome, identifies gut bacteria that confer anti-seizure effects
Bloom Science, a biotechnology company accelerating the development of a new class of neuroprotective medicines, today announced that it has secured an exclusive technology license from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) around preclinical research demonstrating that gut bacteria play a critical role in the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet. The research was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Cell in an article titled “The gut microbiota mediates the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet in mouse models of refractory epilepsy.”
The ketogenic diet, developed in the 1920s to treat epilepsy, has been proven to manage seizures in rare types of epilepsy and in patients who don’t respond to other forms of treatment, but compliance with the low-carb/high-fat diet is extremely challenging. New technologies to interrogate the relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain now explain why it works.
Senior author, Elaine Hsiao, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, led the research that showed in two preclinical mouse models that certain bacteria in the gut are elevated by the ketogenic diet, and those specific strains of bacteria are both necessary and sufficient to confer seizure protection. The bacteria work together to regulate circulating metabolites that fuel neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that is responsible for counterbalancing the excitation of neurons by glutamate. Bloom Science is developing proprietary products from these microbes that aim to modulate GABA, thereby re-establishing the delicate balance of GABA and glutamate and delivering a neuroprotective effect for patients with epilepsy. Bloom Science has entered into an exclusive license agreement around the technology with the UCLA Technology Development Group on behalf of UC Regents.
“In spite of the introduction of 20 new anti-epilepsy drugs in recent decades, a third of patients with epilepsy never achieve seizure control, and half of those who respond to treatment report negative side effects that limit compliance and negatively impact their quality of life,” said Mr. Colasin. “There is clearly a significant need for new and better approaches to managing epilepsy. At Bloom we are addressing that need by hacking the ketogenic diet to identify microbes with therapeutic potential, and then leveraging a unique business model to develop those microbes as neuroprotective therapies for orphan epilepsy indications in an accelerated time frame.”
There are more than 65 million people globally suffering with epilepsy. Uncontrolled epilepsy can lead to poor outcomes for patients, including problems with memory and cognition, depression, anxiety or development issues, as well as risk of sudden death.
“Our bodies are comprised of nearly ten times more microbial cells than human cells, so it’s not at all surprising that the bacteria in the microbiome play a significant role in modulating the neurochemicals in our brain and maintaining brain health,” said Dr. Hsiao, a co-founder of Bloom Science. “The potential of this discovery to impact human health is high, as GABA has been implicated in a broad range of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, autism, anxiety and schizophrenia, all conditions which have also been shown to be modified by the ketogenic diet.”
Chris Reyes, Ph.D. who co-founded the company with Dr. Hsiao and Mr. Colasin added, “The ketogenic diet provides a clear roadmap for the orphan epilepsy syndromes that we will pursue. Our hope is to deliver safe, well-tolerated neuromodulatory treatment approaches to patients who otherwise have few options for controlling their seizures.”
Bloom Science has closed a seed round with industry insiders to initiate operations and has plans for R&D activities up through filing an investigational new drug (IND) application for its live biotherapeutic product (LBP) with the U.S. FDA. In parallel with its therapeutic development activities, Bloom is also developing a medical food that leverages GRAS (generally regarded as safe) designation to establish safety, enabling the company to transition directly into a proof-of-concept trial in patients.
About Bloom Science
Bloom Science is a biotechnology company creating a new class of neuroprotective medicines that seek to replicate the benefits of the ketogenic diet to improve quality of life for people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions.