Bayer has teamed up with skin microbiome specialist Azitra to develop consumer health products for a host of conditions.
Bayer AG has teamed up with medical dermatology company Azitra Inc. to develop consumer health products that harness the skin microbiome to treat conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
The firms have signed a joint development agreement to identify potential candidates for the treatment of adverse skin conditions and diseases from Azitra’s proprietary panel of Staphylococcus epidermidis strains. With Azitra having already demonstrated tolerability of a selected Staphylococcus epidermidis strain in healthy volunteers, the US-based biotech is now preparing to begin the clinical demonstration of efficacy.
Bayer says it will provide Azitra with topical formulations that are able to sustain Staphylococcus epidermidis viability while also showing skin compatibility and sensorial performance.
Under a future license agreement, Bayer intends to develop these candidates into new natural skin-care products. Prospective areas of application, according to Bayer, include medicated skin-care products for sensitive, eczema-prone skin, as well as therapeutic products for skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.
Bayer also plans to review the use of Azitra’s genetically modified bacteria in other consumer health areas such as digestive health and nutrition.
Targeting The Skin Microbiome
Staphylococcus epidermidis is a desirable bacteria naturally found in the skin microbiome, a community of bacteria, fungi, mites and viruses.
According to Azitra, numerous skin diseases are associated with disruptions, or “dysbiosis”, in the skin microbiome. Direct application of commensal bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis can treat dysbiosis, improving skin appearance, hydration, and healing. These bacteria can also be designed to become effective therapies using the tools of genetic engineering, Azitra notes.
Heiko Schipper, president of Bayer Consumer Health, said the goal of the partnership with Azitra was to “turn breakthroughs on the skin microbiome into natural solutions for healthy skin.”
“The skin microbiome offers a promising platform for the development and commercialization of natural skin care products more and more people are looking for,” Schipper insisted.
Dermatology is one of Bayer’s core OTC categories, which Shipper has pledged to back with research and development investment. The firm has trimmed consumer R&D investments in structures and people to free up cash for more external innovation opportunities. (Also see "Bayer's Consumer Chief Initiates Turnaround Plan In Bid To Return Troubled Business To Growth" - HBW Insight, 17 Dec, 2018.)
Microbiome Research Attracting Commercial Interest
Bayer is not the first consumer health player looking to harness the human microbiome in product development.
Nestle Health Science SA in November entered into collaboration with Caelus Health to develop microbiome-based food supplements for the prevention and early treatment of cardio-metabolic diseases, while earlier this month DuPont said it was partnering with British startup BioMe Oxford Ltd. in the early stages of developing an orally delivered capsule that can sample gut health to assess the impact of probiotics and other ingredients that effect the microbiome. (Also see "Nestlé Developing Microbiome-Based Supplements with Dutch Partner" - HBW Insight, 25 Nov, 2019.) (Also see "DuPont Venture With Microbiome Startup Analyzing Probiotic Impact On Gut Health " - HBW Insight, 9 Jun, 2019.)
On the regulatory front, the US Food and Drug Administration recommended last year that probiotics be prioritized for Cosmetic Ingredient Review after a spike in the number of beauty products claiming skin microbiome benefits. (Also see "FDA Proposes Priorities For Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Mica, Probiotics, CBD" - HBW Insight, 18 Apr, 2019.)
The agency had noted previously that by current regulatory standards, probiotic-containing cosmetics may well be adulterated. (Also see "FDA Says Probiotic Cosmetics Could Be Adulterated, ‘Good’ Bacteria Or Not" - HBW Insight, 20 Sep, 2018.)