Getting into the game

How pharmas are thinking about the microbiome for drug development

Several pharmas have started dipping a toe into the microbiome pool to discover new products or to study and monitor disease.

Johnson & Johnson is taking a broad approach that includes both. Last year the pharma formed the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute (JHMI) to accelerate translational research. JHMI Global Head Dirk Gevers said the company had been studying the microbiome within its therapeutic areas, but chose to create a stand-alone group when it saw opportunities for the microbiome to guide drug development across the board.

Gevers said microbes might be able to intervene at earlier stages of disease than traditional drugs because the microbiome is often linked to early disease processes, and changes in it may precede development of disease.

One example he gave was

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