Bloom Science, a biotechnology company accelerating the development of a new class of neuroprotective medicines, announced that it has secured an exclusive technology license around preclinical research demonstrating that gut bacteria play a critical role in the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet.
The research was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Cell in an article titled “The gut microbiota mediates the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet in mouse models of refractory epilepsy.” On behalf of the Regents of the University of California, the UCLA Technology Development Group has filed a patent on the technology that mimics the ketogenic diet to provide seizure protection and has exclusively licensed it to Bloom Science, which will explore potential clinical applications.
The ketogenic diet, developed in the 1920s to treat epilepsy, has been proven to manage seizures in rare types of epilepsy and in patients who don’t respond to other forms of treatment, but compliance with the low-carb/high-fat diet is extremely challenging. New technologies to interrogate the relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain now explain why it works.
Senior author of the Cell publication, Elaine Hsiao, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology in the Life Sciences Division of the UCLA College, and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, led the research that showed in two preclinical mouse models that the ketogenic diet increases the abundance of certain gut bacteria, and those specific strains of bacteria are both necessary and sufficient to confer seizure protection. The bacteria work together to regulate circulating metabolites that fuel neurotransmitters in the brain – specifically gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that is responsible for counterbalancing the excitation of neurons by glutamate. Bloom Science is developing proprietary products from these microbes that aim to modulate GABA, thereby re-establishing the delicate balance of GABA and glutamate and delivering a neuroprotective effect for patients with epilepsy.
“Despite the introduction of 20 new anti-epilepsy drugs in recent decades, a third of patients with epilepsy never achieve seizure control, and half of those who respond to treatment report negative side effects that limit compliance and negatively impact their quality of life,” said Anthony Colasin, CEO of Bloom Science. “New and better approaches to managing epilepsy are urgently needed. At Bloom we are addressing that need by hacking the ketogenic diet to identify microbes with therapeutic potential, and then leveraging a unique business model to develop those microbes as neuroprotective therapies for orphan epilepsy indications in an accelerated time frame.”