Yamagata, Japan – Metagen Therapeutics (President and CEO: Taku Nakahara, PhD; Headquarters: Yamagata, Japan; hereinafter referred to as “MGTx”) has announced a JPY 1.1B investment in its Series A funding as of April, 2023. MGTx has been accelerating its drug discovery and development work on intestinal microbiome-based therapeutics for various diseases. A government backed venture capital fund, JIC Venture Growth Investments (JIC-VGI), has joined as a new investor in addition to Fast Track Initiative (FTI), JAFCO Group, and Keio Innovation Initiative (KII), the existing investors. This brings the total amount raised to JPY 1.33B including MGTx’s current JPY 230M fund.
With this funding, MGTx plans to accelerate development and operation of an ‘intestinal microbiota bank’ along with research and development of an intestinal microbiome drug discovery program. The bank and the drug discovery program are the basis for social implementation of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT).
◆Background of Clinical Research
Research on intestinal bacteria has been making great progress over the years. Its relationships with various diseases such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s disease, allergies, and more, are being recognized. With this significant advancement in microbiota research, FMT is now being utilized as a treatment and microbiome drug discovery tool around the world.
MGTx is currently promoting the social implementation of FMT in Japan by building an ‘intestinal microbiota bank’ which helps to connect patients in need of healthy intestinal microbiota with qualified donors. MGTx’s ultimate goal is to innovate microbiome medicine through reverse translational drug discovery for patients worldwide.
◆Use of Funds
1.Development and operation of the intestinal microbiota bank
- Development of registration system for intestinal microbiota donor candidates
- Operation of intestinal microbiota bank (in accordance with institutional guidelines) – Donor recruitment/online interview, donor eligibility evaluation, receipt of stool donations, manufacturing/examination/storage of intestinal microbiota solution
- Establishment of process regarding preparation and quality control for intestinal microbiota solution
2.Promotion of basic and clinical research for clinical application of FMT (such as joint research related to immune checkpoint inhibitors)
3. Research and development of intestinal microbiota drug discovery program (including probiotics)
As a lead investor and a non-executive board member of MGTx, I am proud to continue my support in this round. We look forward to contributing to the advancement of life, in terms of mortality and conduct, as well as science around the world together with the innovative MGTx team.-Takashi Futami, Principal – Fast Track Initiative
FMT treatment was approved in Australia in November 2022 and approved in the United States in December 2022, and in April 2023, the result of US FDA priority review for the probiotic preparation will be reported. In order to deliver new treatment options to patients in a timely manner, JAFCO, together with our new investors, will continue to do its utmost to support our front-runner, MGTx.
-Taira Kobayashi, Principal – JAFCO Group, Industry-Academia/Life Science Investment Group
I find the company’s business has steadily progressed, and the possibilities of microbiome drug discovery research also expanding 2 years into our participation in the seed round. We expect that the growth of MGTx will continue to promote the acceleration of the creation of new therapeutic methods for intractable diseases associated with the microbiome.-Yuto Torii, Principal – Keio Innovation Initiative, Medical & Health
We made this investment because we believe that innovative medical care and pharmaceuticals based on microbiome science promoted by MGTx will contribute to the realization of a healthy and prosperous society in Japan. I am elated to be able to work with the highly motivated and passionate CEO Dr. Nakahara and his team, investors and stakeholders. Through this investment, we hope to promote research and business and make a further leap, including the expansion of applicable diseases.–Jun Hayashi, Principal – JIC Venture Growth Investments
■From Taku Nakahara, President and CEO of MGTx
Our efforts toward the social implementation of FMT and microbiome drug discovery are progressing steadily. In January 2023, our company participated as a joint research institute in the clinical research of ‘FMT therapy combined with antibiotics’ for ulcerative colitis, which was approved as an Advanced Medical Care B Program. Joint research with the National Cancer Center Hospital has also commenced. In addition to the continued support from FTI, JAFCO, and KII, a government-backed fund, JIC-VGI, has joined MGTx as a new partner for the initial close of Series A. MGTx will strive to provide medical care and pharmaceuticals based on our intestinal microbiota research to patients in Japan as timely as possible as we are supported by a solid team of investors, better than ever before.”
What is a microbiome?
A microbiome refers to the community of bacteria present throughout the human body including the intestines, skin and mouth. There are known to be approximately 40 trillion1 bacterial cells in the human intestine, and in recent years, it has become evident to have significant impact on human health.
What is FMT?
FMT refers to the transplantation of intestinal microbiota from the stool of healthy individuals into the intestines of patients using a colonoscope. This is a medical technology that improves the imbalance of the microbiota, or dysbiosis. Clinical research began in 2014, and Juntendo University has accumulated a track record of FMT in more than 200 patients with ulcerative colitis2, publishing research papers and case studies internationally in a number of top journals.
What is FMT-based reverse translational drug discovery?
Typically, ‘reverse translational research’ refers to a drug development strategy utilizing empirical knowledge and observational research obtained prior to the basic and clinical studies, and applying them to those studies. MGTx’s ‘FMT-based reverse translational research’, on the other hand, focuses on clinical proof of concept (PoC) obtained through FMT intervention. Once the efficacy and safety is established with the intervention data, a novel drug is designed through basic research and developed with clinical studies. This human-first approach allows for new therapeutics to reach patients more efficiently.
1.Sender, R., Fuchs, S. & Milo, R. Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. PLoS Biol. 14, e1002533 (2016)
2.”Intestinal flora transplantation for ulcerative colitis”. Juntendo University School of Medicine Juntendo Clinic Department of Gastroenterology. https://www.juntendo.ac.jp/hospital/clinic/shokaki/about/treatment/intestinal_microbiota1.html
About Metagen Therapeutics
Metagen Therapeutics (MGTx) is a biotech startup founded by researchers of Juntendo University, Keio University and Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2020 with the mission of “continuing to fulfill the wishes of patients through microbiome science”. MGTx has been accelerating its drug discovery and development work on intestinal microbiome-based therapeutics for various diseases such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, and Parkinson’s disease. It aims for social impact through medical care and drug discovery. For more information, go to https://www.metagentx.com or follow us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/metagentx/.
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Company name: Metagen Therapeutics Inc. (MGTx)
Head office location: 246-2 Minakami, Kakuganji, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture
Tokyo Office: Toranomon Hills Business Tower 15th Floor, 1-17-1 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Representative: Taku Nakahara, President and CEO
Date of establishment: January 17, 2020
Company description: Drug discovery and medical business through microbiota therapeutics