Developing therapies to improve gut health
“Until recently, fixing the microbiome has been a complete mystery to us. We’ve learned a lot about it in recent years, and will continue to learn more over the next two decades.”
“Another intervention could be what’s called microbiota-directed complementary foods. Think of them like fertiliser for the microbiome. Eating them encourages healthy bacteria - the ones that help digest food and protect us from infection - to flourish.”
Professor Hawking Fellowship Lecture at Cambridge University
Ateria Health Ltd (“Ateria”) is a privately held biotechnology company based in the United Kingdom established in 2017.
Ateria was founded by the principals of Scientific Venture Partners, a UK-based technology commercialisation company. It is focused on developing products for a variety of unmet medical needs involving gut health including, for example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The products are based on the research of Professor John Hunter and Dr Rosemary Waring, leading investigators in the areas of gut health and metabolic disorders, and co-founders of Ateria.
The central hypothesis underlying the Company is that many conditions that affect the gut are driven by inefficient digestion of carbohydrates in the small intestine. This inefficiency results in large amounts of undigested carbohydrate passing through the small intestine and entering the large intestine. When large amounts of undigested carbohydrate enter the large intestine, the bacterial population of the large intestine, known as the microbiome or the gut flora, produce waste products that irritate the gut and lead to typical IBS symptoms such as diarrhoea, flatulence and cramping.
Ateria’s proprietary products assist digestion by adding enzymes to the patient’s diet. The addition of these enzymes helps normalize digestion.
There is preliminary evidence to suggest that the addition of these enzymes to the diet improves athletic performance, possibly by enhancing energy extraction. On the basis of proof of concept data in student athletes at the University of Birmingham, clinical studies to investigate their impact on athletic conditioning and endurance are underway.
Ateria’s proprietary ERME™ enzyme supplement is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) in the UK and has been incorporated safely into human foods for many years.
Gut Health Plays a Key Role in Human Health
- Scientists continue to uncover the significant role that the gut microbiome plays in human health with linkages found between gut bacteria and a range of conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac, colitis, diabetes and obesity
- Nutrition now widely accepted as a powerful tool for the management of symptoms linked to these diseases
- Developing low cost, safe and effective ways of treating these conditions presents an incredible opportunity
The human microbiome and its importance to health
The “microbiome” refers to the collection of microorganisms in the body of every living organism. The microbiome includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
The importance of a healthy microbiome has become increasingly evident over the past 10 years.
In animal studies involving horses and other species, a healthy microbiome has been shown to promote health, condition, and performance.
In sharp contrast, abnormalities of the microbiome have been associated with obesity, elevated blood sugar, poor condition, poor performance, bowel abnormalities and the circulation of toxic chemicals.
Fermentation refers to the process by which microbes normally generate enzymes to decompose and utilise foodstuffs. Fermentation takes place largely in the colon or large intestine, where the concentration of microbes, or the population of gut flora, is highest.
In the face of carbohydrate overload or inefficient carbohydrate metabolism, the process of fermentation can be negatively affected.
The combination of malfermentation and an abnormal microbiome may result in the production of metabolites that can result in discomfort and illness.
Ateria co-founder Professor John Hunter a consultant gastroenterologist, based in Cambridge has spent decades investigating IBS and the microbiome. His first publications appeared in the 1980s.
Professor Hunter and his colleague and co-founder of Ateria, Dr. Rosemary Waring, demonstrated that disordered carbohydrate metabolism was a critical factor in malfermentation, which in turn has a negative effect on digestion and on the microbiome in the gut.
They identified an enzyme-rich malt extract (ERME™), which when added to the diet, offsets malfermentation, improves carbohydrate metabolism, optimizes the microbiome and helps relieve the symptoms of IBS.
ERME™ can be prepared in several ways. It can be formulated as a liquid, into gel caps, or into bars similar to widely available energy bars.
We have coined the term “anabiomic”* to describe ERME™’s mechanisms of action, which have been investigated through extensive sets of animal and human studies.
To the best of the Ateria’s knowledge, ERME™ is the first product that attempts to address the symptoms of IBS by optimising carbohydrate metabolism and malfermentation.
Ateria has exclusive world-wide intellectual property rights around the formulation and manufacture of ERME™ with long life patents (2037 expiry). Additional patents and intellectual property protection are envisioned in the future.
* The term “anabiomic” is derived from the Greek meaning “restoring life” and is intended to refer to any process or product which safely restores a healthy microbiome. While it has yet to be introduced formally to the scientific community, we plan to do so through the scientific literature.
ERME™ is Enzyme Rich Malt Extract
The product is derived from malted barley. It is inexpensive and readily available. It has a pleasant honey-like taste and consistency
Considered GRAS – Generally Recognised As Safe under FDA classifications
Comprises a mixture of plant-derived enzymes involved in breaking down and metabolising carbohydrates including:
- Amylase - splits starch
- Fructanase – splits complex sugars from grass and hay
- Limit dextrinase – produces small sugar molecules
- β-glucanase, cellulase, & xylanase – improve fibre digestion
Naturally occurring enzymes contained within malted barley
Potential Target Indications
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- IBS is a condition characterised by a group of symptoms including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements with no underlying pathology evident
- Extremely prevalent across the globe with estimates that 10-25%+ of the population is affected
- Many people are living with IBS without being formally diagnosed
- No known cure exists.
- Many treatments try to improve symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea without addressing the underlying cause. Examples include strict diet regimens that tend to be difficult and socially isolating, probiotics and antibiotics. They have limited effectiveness
- IBS is responsible for significant direct and indirect costs to healthcare budgets
- IBS represents a huge market of chronic sufferers for whom no good solution is presently available. This target market has the advantage of being self-identified and constantly in search of solutions. An effective new treatment can be expected to evoke significant patient demand
Other Enterometabolic Disorders (EMDs)
- Professor Hunter has introduced the term “Enterometabolic Disorders” (EMDs) to refer to disorders of digestion and carbohydrate metabolism that arise from changes in the digestive system including abnormalities of the microbiome, malfermentation, endotoxemia and the production of toxic chemicals
- Obesity has emerged as a major cause of morbidity in many parts of the world leading to hypertension, heart disease and metabolic syndrome
- In experimental studies involving laboratory studies, some forms of obesity have been shown to involve perturbations of the microbiome and EMD. In rodents, for example, there are differences in the microbiome of obese as opposed to normal rats, and transplantation of the gut flora from obese to lean mice leads to the development of obesity in the lean animals.
- A number of biomarkers promise insights into obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor of diabetes. Recent publications have linked increased acetate production in the colon to insulin resistance and obesity in rodents. Very encouragingly, ERME has been shown to reduce faecal acetate concentrations in horses and other species
- The combination of IBS, obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes delineates a large and rapidly growing patient population, and potential area for study on the impact of ERME
Douglas is a founder and director of UK-based technology commercialisation group Scientific Venture Partners Ltd which has built a portfolio of high potential technology-based companies arising from leading research institutions.
He has been involved in technology companies both as an investor and director for the last 20 years. He is also a former executive main board member of Anglo Pacific Group plc.
When an active member of the House of Lords, he held a position on the council of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee.
He is the honorary consul for Chile in Scotland.
Fred is a director of Scientific Venture Partners, and is a co- founder and director of several early stage healthcare companies.
Previously, Fred worked in Technology Mergers & Acquisitions with UBS Warburg in San Francisco.
He has a wide variety of experience across different technology sectors and geographies, having worked with and advised public and private companies in the US, Europe and Asia.
Fred graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Computer Science and holds an MBA from London Business School.
Mr Karelis graduated from The University of Western Australia with Bachelors and Honours in Science majoring in Biochemistry and Microbiology as well as a Masters in Business Administration.
He is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has qualified as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
He has been involved in the Australian and international healthcare sector as a venture capital/private equity investor since 2000.
He has extensive experience working with early stage technology companies particularly in the healthcare sector.
Prof. John Hunter
Professor Hunter is a Consultant Physician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, visiting Professor of Medicine at the University of Cranfield and a recognised authority on diseases of the gut including Crohn’s Disease, Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
He has contributed over 100 research papers to major medical journals including The Lancet, Nature and the British Medical Journal and is the author of several books on gut health.
Professor Hunter has been a consultant to a number of international companies and has been elected a Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association and the American College of Gastroenterology.
Dr Rosemary Waring
CONSULTANT & FOUNDER
Dr Waring is a graduate of Cambridge University and subsequently completed her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham where she is now honorary reader in Human Toxicology.
Her research is focused on the interactions of gut flora with gastrointestinal function using metabolomic analysis.
She has published over 230 research papers.
Prof. Teo Forcht Dagi
Professor Dagi serves as Director of Life Sciences at Scientific Venture Partners. He manages venture capital investments in innovative biomedical technologies, works extensively with early stage companies, and brings broad experience as a chair and board member of privately held and publicly traded companies.
Teo consults with the Mayo Clinic Medical School, serves as a Director of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and has been appointed International Surgical Advisor to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He currently serves as Professor at the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute and Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Fiona is a strategic adviser to food industry leaders, working with business, government and advocacy to establish high profile brand marketing and consumer campaigns. Her roles include director of Jamie Oliver’s landmark campaigns on school food and obesity in the UK and US; working for HRH The Prince of Wales to build his award-winning organic brand Duchy Originals; and head of marketing at organic dairy co-op, Omsco. She has also worked for UK government as expert adviser to the Secretary of State (Defra) and led their cross-government campaign promoting British food exports. She is a Member of the Food Standards Agency.