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APC announces research alliance with 4D pharma plc

The APC Microbiome Institute is pleased to announce a research collaboration with 4D pharma plc to develop live biotherapeutics for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and associated CNS Disorders. The programme, worth  €4.8 million, will support several hi-tech jobs in Cork.

According to Duncan Peyton, CEO of the UK-based pharmaceutical company, live biotherapeutics are important for conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma, and the collaboration with APC will further the understanding of ASD, particularly on how the microbiome influences on cognitive function. 4D’s MicroRx discovery platform, together with the company’s commercial acumen and track record in progressing live biotherapeutics represents an ideal partnership opportunity for the APC. The research will be led by Professors John Cryan and Ted Dinan, both renowned for research on the brain-gut axis.  According to Institute Director Professor Fergus Shanahan, “this collaboration will allow our teams to work together to bring new, badly-needed treatment approaches for people with ASD”.

The prevalence of ASD is estimated to be around 1 in 70 children with reported cases steadily increasing since the 1960’s attributed to improved societal awareness and diagnosis. Although the genetic basis of a minority of cases is known, the disorder pathways and mechanisms are poorly understood, presenting a significant challenge to drug discovery. Current pharmaceutical treatment options focus on managing the abnormal behaviour associated with autism. More than 50% of children in the US diagnosed with ASD are prescribed psychoactive drugs or anticonvulsants, with the most common drug types being antipsychotics, stimulants and antidepressants.



Pictured (l-r): John F. Cryan and Ted Dinan