The discovery of the iNtRON pancreatic cancer microbiome holds promise

iNtRON Biotechnology has announced the identification of prophage and (non-)ORF-jamphage of the microbiome that are frequently observed in long-term pancreatic cancer survivors.

The company says a ‘significant identification’ was achieved as part of the ongoing PHAGERIARUS development project being carried out by the company’s new drug division.

The PHAGERIARUS development project is focused on obtaining bacteriophage-derived proteins that can function as immune regulators (IR). The ultimate goal is to develop a phage-based immunotherapy capable of treating various immune disorders including cancer.

This project is based on the research that bacteriophages not only act as important factors for the survival and growth of bacteria, but also play a role in regulating the immune system. In addition to ongoing efforts to secure diverse IR candidates, the project involves comprehensive genomic and functional analyzes of disease-associated microbiomes and bacteriophages. In addition, this project aims to elucidate the mode of action (MoA) of IR-associated proteins derived from bacteriophages.

Securing genetic resources

iNtRON has conducted research primarily focused on lytic bacteriophages to secure candidate IRs and obtain open reading frames (ORFs) in their genomes. However, it has been found that most of the bacteria present in the body carry lysogenic bacteriophages (prophage/jamphage) in their genomes. Recognizing the potential role of these lysogenic phages in inducing immune responses within the body, iNtRON secured genetic resources derived from prophages/jamphages.

The main focus of the company lies in colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer. It has been reported that patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer exhibit an organ-specific microbiome, which is more common in long-term survivors (LTS) (survival time greater than 10 years) compared to short-term survivors (STS). group (survival period of less than five years, median: 1.6 years). Alkalihalobacillus clausii has been identified as a representative microbiome, and iNtRON has acquired the strain and confirmed the presence of prophage and jamphage through genomic analysis.

As previously reported, the bacterial strain is believed to influence pancreatic cancer survival rates. iNtRON says it anticipates that the prophage and (non-)ORF-jamphage present in the strain play an important role as IR modulators of the immune system. Based on the analysis results, seven strains were identified, containing four types of prophage, three types of ORF-jamphage, and 12 types of non-ORF-jamphage, with a total of 531 ORF. These prophage-derived ORFs and (non-)jamphage-ORFs were considered as potential IR candidates.

Promotes the immune system

Securing the microbiome is expected to reduce the incidence and recurrence of pancreatic cancer and through certain mechanisms, boost the patient’s immune system for long-term survival. The actual function of the bacterial strain is expected to be mediated by prophage and jamphage, and iNtRON is carrying out further developments based on this expectation.

Son Ji-soo, head of BD department said: “We are currently securing a number of IR candidate materials to verify performance and efficacy for application in the development of PHAGERIARUS. While initially focusing on colorectal and pancreatic cancer, considering their prevalence and irregularity, we plan to gradually expand the scope of our research to include the microbiome associated with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“Our new bacteriophage-based drug is undoubtedly a ‘first-concept’ drug that can effectively control various immune-related diseases. Therefore, we will continue to actively pursue the PHAGERIARUS development project, which involves the analysis and acquisition of Prophage and Jamphage from microbiomes specifically found in patients with various diseases, and then elucidates the function of each component.”

Yoon Kyung-won, CEO of iNtRON, said: “While most of the existing bacteriophage research and development is focused on bacterial infectious diseases, iNtRON is expanding the applications of bacteriophages to include antiviral drug development as well as immune-related drug development.

“This expansion will clearly lead us to significant milestones in ‘first in class’ and ‘first concept’ drug development. We will dedicate our efforts in building collaborations and building technology networks with overseas companies in this regard.”

About the PHAGERIARUS iNtRON platform

The PHAGERIARUS iNtRON platform is a new approach to immunotherapy using bacteriophages. By exploring the effects of bacteriophages on the human immune system, iNtRON aims to discover novel immune regulators that can suppress disease and serve as potent anticancer immunotherapies.

iNtRON research goes beyond the bacterium-bacteriophage relationship to include bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages and their interactions with immunity.

Last month, the company announced the first type of cancer targeted by its PHAGERIA technology was colorectal cancer.

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