Advancing novel biotherapeutics based on synthetic biology

Researchers at Synlogic are clearing the path for a new class of medicine – biotherapeutics based on synthetic biology, called synthetic biotics, which are created by programming or engineering bacteria to metabolise or secrete well-validated targets of disease pathophysiology. In this article, Dr Caroline Kurtz, Chief Development Officer at Synlogic, discusses how synthetic biotics work and their potential applications in the treatment of a broad range of conditions including rare diseases, metabolic conditions, autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases.

The concept of synthetic biology emerged as early as the 1960s when researchers started to advance precision genetic engineering techniques and apply them to drug development. Simultaneously, advances in molecular biology, DNA sequencing, understanding of gene expression and regulation of cellular function collectively made it possible to engineer bacteria and develop new drugs ready to offer therapeutic benefit to patients living with many serious diseases. After years of continued research and innovation, synthetic biology is now a rapidly growing area of biomedical discovery and drug development.

Founded in 2014 by Jim Collins and Tim Lu, both professors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US and world-renowned experts in synthetic biology, Synlogic was one of the first companies established with the goal of developing biotherapeutics based on synthetic biology. Since then, the company has made rapid progress in advancing promising research, with six Investigational New Drug (IND) applications filed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), four investigational therapies in development and treatment experience in more than 350 patients in clinical programmes. Synlogic leverages a range of synthetic biology tools to design and develop therapeutics based on genetically engineered bacterial microbes, with a current focus on treatments for metabolic and immunological diseases including phenylketonuria (PKU), homocystinuria (HCU) and enteric hyperoxaluria (EH).