CC Bio aims to improve health of millions of women and cystic fibrosis patients with microbiome editing technology

24/09/2021

The lives of millions of women around the world could be improved by extraordinary microbiome editing technology pioneered by synthetic biology start-up CC Bio.

The Babraham Research Campus-based company, which recently secured £890,000 in seed funding from Cambridge-based CMS Ventures, harnesses potent enzymes derived from bacteriophages - viruses that attack bacteria.

CC Bio uses these to seek and destroy harmful, disease-causing bacteria in a form of precision medicine that it believes will provide an effective alternative to antibiotic treatments for infections and microbiome-associated disease.

The approach could also help prevent many such infections occurring in the first place.

Among the first to benefit will be bacterial vaginosis (BV) patients.

Dr Matthews Cummings, CEO and co-founder of CC Bio, said: "BV represents a major global challenge. Many women face persistent and recurring episodes of the condition, which not only affects their self-esteem and confidence but also carries significant pre-natal health risks such as miscarriage and an increased STI risk.”

The current treatment for BV infections is oral or vaginal antibiotic therapy.

However, this fails to eliminate the bacteria responsible for the condition and restore the natural vaginal bacterial community, or microbiome.

More than half of women experiencing symptomatic BV experience a relapse of the condition within six months of therapy.

With its new seed funding, CC Bio hopes to change.

Deploying the power of bacteriophages enables the company to modify the composition of a number of human microbiome environments. This can resolve dysbiosis - a reduction or disruption in microbial diversity - before disease sets in.

“This funding will further develop our revolutionary technologies, offering effective alternatives to women who have been underserved by poorly functioning antibiotic therapies,” said Dr Cummings.

“Our novel approach of highly selectively eliminating ‘bad’ bacteria from the wider microbiome holds the promise of not only effectively treating conditions such as BV but also potentially preventing them occurring in the first place or recurring.

“This technology has the potential to transform life for the millions of women around the world who suffer with BV, effectively addressing the most common vaginal infection of women of childbearing age.”

Cystic fibrosis patients could also benefit from the technology. The genetic respiratory condition is another initial target for the company, while other developments of the core platform technology could aid those with a range of other bacterial infections.

It is hoped the approach could also offer a weapon to the rising problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

CCBio was founded in 2018, emerging from the early-stage venture creation programme Deep Science Ventures.

In 2019, it was a winner in the AstraZeneca StartUP Science Competition in 2019.

Then in 2020, it won the LifeArc Accelerate@Babraham Award in 2020 for ‘most progressed venture’.

The award is part of an initiative which supports ambitious early-stage life science ventures within the Babraham Research Campus community, and its latest bootcamp is due to begin on Monday (September 27).

The programme - and subsequent funding - has put CC Bio in a promising place to progress its business, and also to help others.

Dr Cummings said: 'We're delighted to take the next step in our development with this investment from CMS. It's gratifying that a Cambridge-based investor has chosen to lead our seed round, as we view the Cambridge biotech community as instrumental to our development to date.

“In particular, our participation in the Accelerate@Babraham programme based at the Babraham Research Campus connected us with highly experienced mentors, and provided key laboratory facilities to help us mature our vision. We're looking forward to helping out the latest cohort of Accelerate@Babraham start-ups later this month and share some of the lessons and experiences that we've learnt along the way.’

Joining the CC Bio board as investment director is CMS Ventures investment committee member Andy Clark

“Science is beginning to piece together how the trillions of microbes that live on and in all of us – our microbiome -­ affect our physical health,” he said.

“CC Bio is operating at the cutting edge of this nascent scientific field, which has the potential to transform the lives of millions of patients whilst also reducing healthcare costs around the world. CMS Ventures is proud to continue to support the most innovative biotech start-ups emerging from the exciting Cambridge scientific community.”