Matt Henn, chief scientific officer at Seres Therapeutics, discusses new ways of targeting infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistant infections.
Henn is the chief scientific officer at Seres Therapeutics, and helped launch it in 2012. Seres advances microbiome therapeutics, work Henn describes as addressing “significant, unmet medical needs.”
Seres designs bacteria with specific pharmacological properties to simulate what happens when the human microbiome is disrupted.
“What we saw at Seres was an opportunity to fundamentally transform how we tackle infectious diseases in particular, and antibiotic-resistant infections.”
Henn notes that the best way to treat a bacterial infection is often with antibiotics, but problems arise when bacteria develop resistance to these antibiotics, or the antibiotics trigger other infections, such as C difficile.
Seres is looking to target diseases another way. “We can design our drugs to target multiple disease-relevant pathways simultaneously. So what we’re doing in AMR is that we are both designing our drugs to decolonize and/or prevent infection with the bacteria that harbor these antibiotic-resistant genes, and that’s really really important for two reasons.
“One, we can address the infection itself, but we can also decrease the level of these bacteria in a patient, which we hope will then have an impact in reducing transmission events.”
Henn continued that the second thing Seres is doing is repairing the epithelial barrier in the gut to prevent bacteria from crossing into the bloodstream and causing further infection.
Seres believes they have novel technology to transform AMR treatment, which Henn says is vital, echoing other predictions that AMR is one of the greatest public health threats.
Henn has conducted microbiological research for over 25 years, and was the director of viral genomics and assistant director of the Genome Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard before joining Seres.
“What’s exciting about this space right now is that we learn something new all the time…The microbiome plays an incredibly important role in human health,” Henn said.