ViThera’s research combines probiotics with synthetic biology to create novel therapeutics for chronic diseases. The company’s strategies use the concept of using genetically engineered probiotic bacteria as vectors for the delivery of therapeutic proteins that target the intestinal epithelium for treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Johannes Fruehauf, Founder of ViThera was previously employed by Cequent Pharmaceuticals. Cequent merged with MDRNA and the combined firm was renamed Marina Biotech. ViThera employed some former researchers from the company Cequent, which developed engineered E. Coli bacteria for the delivery of RNA-interference (RNAi) drugs to the gut called transkingdom RNAi (tkRNAi). ViThera conducted contract research to partially fund its own projects and served clients focused on RNAi, and that side of the business has been renamed Cambridge Biolabs. Cambridge Biolabs maintains a license to tkRNAi and Marina Biotech is eligible for milestone and royalty payments from those programs. Cambridge Biolabs continues to provide custom laboratory services and is independent from ViThera.
Dr. Johannes Fruehauf and the ViThera team brought the first bacteria-based RNAi drug delivery platform to clinical trials.
EnLact (ENhanced Lactococcus) strains are engineered lactic acid bacteria and probiotic bacteria that express beneficial proteins and modulate disease within the patient’s body. ViThera’s lead program, VT301, uses EnLact technology and is for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. VT301 is claimed to heal the epithelial lining of the gut without affecting the immune system. The EnLact® strains in VT301 express human anti-inflammatory proteins that act locally on the inflamed mucosa and avoid systemic side effects.
ViThera has partnered with Johnson & Johnson.
- Microbiome and Gut HealthThe field of health as it relates to gut microbiota - the microorganisms inside the human microbiome, including bacteria and archaea that live in the digestive tracts of humans.
- BiotechnologyBiotechnology in a broad sense includes the use of living systems and organisms, as well as their parts for the development or production of products.
- Synthetic biologySynthetic biology is a multidisciplinary area of research that seeks to create new biological parts, devices, and systems or redesign systems already found in nature to have new abilities.
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