MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Simba Gill Ph.D
CEO, Evelo Therapeutics
MedicalResearch: Evelo Therapeutics, a new company focuses on leveraging the power of the microbiome to develop novel therapies for cancer. Evelo is pioneering Oncobiotic™ therapeutics, a new modality in cancer therapy based on the cancer microbiome.
Dr. Gill, CEO of Evelo Therapeutics began his career at Celltech, focused on antibody research. Dr. Gill earned his Ph.D. from King’s College, London, and his MBA from INSEAD.
Medical Research: What is a microbiome? How do microbiomes play a role in health and disease?
Dr. Gill: The microbiome is the collection of trillions of bacteria, funguses, viruses and other microbes that live on and within the human body. There are different clusters of microbes in different parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, large intestine, and vagina.
Recently we have learned that our microbial populations shift depending on changes to an individual’s health and wellness. The makeup of one’s microbiome has a strong influence on one’s health, immune response, and metabolic state.
Medical Research: Specifically, how does a particular microbiome influence the growth of a cancer or tumor?
Dr. Gill: Collections of specialized bacteria surround malignant tumors in the human body. These cancer-associated bacteria (CABs) play a key role in the growth and development of the tumor. For example, bacteria supply nutrients to tumors in a localized metabolic cycle. They also block signals that would enable the body’s immune system to attack the tumor, and they make changes to the nearby tissues that enable the tumor to grow and ultimately metastasize. Cancer is increasingly recognized as a complex relationship between the genetics of a patient and their microbiome.
Medical Research: What is the background or basis for Evelo Therapeutics?
Dr. Gill: Inside the innovation foundry of Flagship VentureLabs, our founders began a two year deep dive into the role of the microbiome in cancer. They discovered that in every cancer they explored there was a unique set of bacteria surrounding tumors. This finding led to a deeper exploration, through which it became clear that cancer associated bacteria specifically interact with and modify the immune system and the tumor microenvironment at both the metabolic and stromal levels. This has been one of the under explored and underappreciated areas. Evelo has the world’s largest database of specific human tumors and the cancer-associated bacteria that surround each one. This analysis, called characterization, gives Evelo unique insight into the biologies of the tumor microenvironment. Evelo’s treatments seek to disrupt the bacteria in the tumor microenvironment, driving tumors into remission.
Medical Research: What types of therapies are you researching and hope to develop?
Dr. Gill: The cancer microbiome represents the next wave of cancer immunotherapy and Evelo believes Oncobiotic therapies are a powerful new therapeutic modality in the fight against cancer. Oncobiotic therapeutics are experimental treatments based on Evelo’s understanding of the cancer microbiome. They can be mixtures of bacteria or substances that have an impact on the cancer microbiome. They make use of the ability of bacteria to disrupt the metabolic microenvironment, activate the body’s immune system, and affect the broader tumor microenvironment to drive cancer into remission.
About Evelo Therapeutics
Evelo Therapeutics is dedicated to transforming cancer therapy through a deep understanding of the cancer microbiome. Evelo is discovering and developing Oncobiotic™ therapies, novel treatments designed to attack cancer by disrupting the microbial environment which supports tumors and protects them from the body’s immune system. Evelo’s platform disrupts the tumor microenvironment at the metabolic and stromal levels and provides next-generation, microbiome-based immunotherapeutics. Founded at Flagship VentureLabs, Evelo is the first microbiome company focused on cancer. For more information, please visit www.evelotx.com.
About Flagship Ventures
Realizing entrepreneurial innovation is the mission of Flagship Ventures. Founded in 2000, the firm has launched more than 35 first-in-class companies while investing in another 55. Flagship manages over $1.4 billion in capital and is active in three principal sectors: therapeutics, health technologies, and sustainability. Flagship’s current portfolio includes Acceleron (NASDAQ: XLRN), Agios (NASDAQ: AGIO), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), T2 Biosystems (NASDAQ: TTOO), as well as several private companies: Editas Medicine, Moderna Therapeutics and Syros Pharmaceuticals. For more information, please visit www.flagshipventures.com.
About Flagship VentureLabs®
Flagship VentureLabs is the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures. VentureLabs has been creating breakthrough companies since 2000. It is the first institution dedicated to entrepreneurial innovation, where discovery, invention and entrepreneuring are performed simultaneously by a world-class team of scientists, innovators and professional entrepreneurs. VentureLabs innovates, invents, launches and builds startups through a unique, systematic approach that produces best-in-class companies based on in-house innovations. VentureLabs has started 35 life science and technology companies, including Joule Unlimited, Seres Therapeutics, Pronutria Biosciences, Symbiota and Moderna Therapeutics. For more information, please visit www.flagshipventures.com/venturelabs.
Simba Gill Ph.D (2015). Evelo Therapeutics Seeks To Disrupt Cancer Enabling Effects of Microbiome