Copenhagen, November 7, 2023

Biomia ApS, a synthetic biology company enabling discovery, development, and manufacturing of plant-inspired natural and new-to-nature small molecule medicines, publish novel drug candidates in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

The new paper published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology describes the successful whole-cell biosynthesis of two monoterpene indole alkaloids (MIAs), alstonine and serpentine, which are known for their therapeutic effects against several indications. The research extends from a recent study reporting the use of Biomia’s fermentation-based manufacturing platform for the biosynthesis of essential anti-cancer drug vinblastine published in Nature journal in 2022 (link). Beyond the potential for a scalable fermentation-based manufacturing, the current study further showcase first-in-class whole-cell biosynthesis of approximately 20 new-to-nature analogues of alstonine and serpentine based on Biomia’s proprietary technology. Acknowledging that half of approved drugs during the last few decades are based on natural products or derivatives thereof, and that a quarter of all approved small molecule drugs are halogenated, the study is a first demonstration of how Biomia’s innovative manufacturing platform can be used for drug discovery campaigns of complex new-to-nature halogenated MIAs with documented links to several target diseases. 

“Biomia herein reports its PoC for halogenation of natural MIAs and on manufacturing of new-to-nature MIAs at scales needed for pre-clinical studies”, says Biomia’s CSO Dr. Jie Zhang, adding “not only are these halogenated MIAs impossible to source from natural resources, but they also contain several stereocenters complicating their chemical synthesis and accessibility to drug discovery programs. With halogenation, we now have the chemical handle to derivatize MIAs by adding thousands, if not more, other chemical moieties known to affect ADME properties of drug leads.”  

Of relevance to Biomia’s mental health program, the study highlights the manufacturing of alstonine, which has been documented to have anti-psychotic effects in various animal models, and from which Biomia seeks to further optimize and develop novel alstonine analogue drug candidates.

“The World Health Organization has estimated that by 2030 mental health disorders will be a leading cause of disease burden globally, of which schizophrenia, a common psychiatric disorder with a lifetime prevalence of ~1%, is expected to account for a significant part” says CEO Dr. Michael Krogh Jensen, adding “With this publication, we wish to emphasize our commitment to the development of a pipeline of novel, safe and efficacious drug candidates much needed in integrated healthcare for patients suffering from schizo-affective health disorders, and we are now looking forward to entering partnerships for further development of Biomia’s pipeline drug candidates”.

Read the full article