Enterome: a start-up specialised in bacterial metagenomic

Enterome develops medicinal products and biomarkers for the diagnosis of chronic diseases linked to anomalies in the bacterial composition of the intestine (intestinal metabolic and inflammatory diseases). The technology used by the company was initially developed by INRA in Jouy-en-Josas; application of this technology to the identification of Enterotypes (see insert) was acknowledged as one of the five major scientific breakthroughs of 2011 by the international journal Science.

A probiotic whose
Updated on 08/29/2013
Published on 10/04/2012

An innovative technology: INRA's quantitative metagenomics platform

The intestinal microbiota (cf. insert) plays a crucial role in the digestive and immune functions, and its malfunction is associated with the development of severe and chronic diseases. A clearer understanding of the composition of this microbiota, and its relationships with disease development, will also provide an opportunity to detect early-warning signs linked to the onset of pathologies and thus the development of effective preventive measures. But how is it possible to study this microbiota, in the knowledge that 70% to 80% of the bacteria it contains are not cultivable? This is the challenge that was taken up by INRA researchers in the Research Unit for Food Microbiology at the Service of Health (MICALIS) in Jouy-en-Josas, who have developed the most advanced very high throughput quantitative metagenomics platform in the world. This molecular approach offers access to all the genomes of dominant micro-organisms without it being necessary to cultivate them. The bacteria are characterised from their DNA. The inventory of bacterial diversity achieved in both healthy and sick individuals provides opportunities to discover associations between bacterial species and pathologies.

A successful technology transfer: creation of the Enterome start-up enterprise

Enterome was set up to exploit these discoveries by developing innovative biomarkers that can be industrialised as diagnostic tools. The company benefits from exclusive access to the discoveries made by the INRA metagenomics platform with respect to specific diseases which include type 2 diabetes and diseases of the liver and intestine.

At present, two biomarker development projects are in the pipeline: one concerning metabolic diseases (non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis (NASH) and type 2 diabetes/obesity) and the other targeting chronic inflammatory intestinal diseases (CIID).

A new threshold in company development

Since the end of March, Enterome has crossed a new threshold in its development by raising funds of €5 million from two investors, Seventure Partners and Lundbeckfond Ventures. The total funds raised could reach €7.5 million before the summer. This funding follows on from an initial fund-raising of €1.5 million from Seventure Partners (Natixis) and INRA Transfert.
The aim of this operation is to validate, exploit and market the company's patented biomarkers in Europe and the USA, in the form of medical diagnostic tools.

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Scientific contact(s):

The microbiota, a new organ

The digestive tract of each individual harbours 100,000 billion bacteria, or ten to 100 times more than the number of cells in the body, for a total mass of around one kilogram. The functional potential of these intestinal bacteria (called the microbiota) is enormous: they contain 150 times more genes than the human genome.This bacterial community plays an important role in our digestion, of course, but also in our immune system and general state of health.

Two major programs

Two major programs

MetaHIT: a pioneer in exploration of the intestinal microbiota (2008-2012)

This four-year European research programme, coordinated by INRA in Jouy-en-Josas, was completed in March 2012. One major outcome of the project was the discovery of three enterotypes characterising the intestinal bacterial composition of each one of us, in the same way as blood groups. This discovery was rendered possible by the constitution of a catalogue containing 3.3 million intestinal microbial genes.

Metagenopolis: a Centre of Excellence dedicated to metagenomics of the human microbiota and developed by INRA

This demonstrator, funded in the context of the French Investments for the Future (Investissements d'Avenir) programme, is designed to demonstrate the impact of the human intestinal microbiota on health by providing the medical, scientific and industrial community with the most innovative and high-performance tools available in the field.