Search for contacts, projects,
courses and publications

Development of a drug discovery platform to identify microbiome-derived therapeutics



Alimonti A.



Microbes are an incredibly diverse group of organisms that plays a significant role in human health and disease. The microbiome represents an enormous and rich source of biology and chemistry to develop new products for improving human health. Consequently, the uncultured portion of the human gut microbiome, which is the majority of microbial species, represents an untapped therapeutic opportunity. Microbial-derived therapeutics are compounds or products derived from microorganisms that have been developed to treat diseases or improve human health. These therapeutics have been developed to target a variety of diseases, including infectious diseases, cancer, and metabolic disorders. The discovery of new microbial-derived therapeutics is a complex and time-consuming process that involves the identification, isolation, and characterization of novel microorganisms and their natural products. Historically, this process has been challenging due to the vast number of microbial species that exist and the difficulty in culturing and growing many of them in the laboratory. However, recent advances in sequencing technologies, bioinformatics, and synthetic biology have revolutionized the field of microbial- derived therapeutics discovery.

Herein, we will establish a unique patentable HIGH THROUGHPUT PLATFORM to isolate and identify human gut microbes and bacterial-derived molecules that will be used to treat resistant and refractory patients. To this end, we will isolate gut microbes from fecal samples of cancer patients responding to clinically available anti-cancer treatments. Our preliminary evidence suggests that commensal bacteria from responding patients produce anti-cancer molecules. Upon isolation, bacterial media will be screened on tumor cells to identify anti-cancer compounds that will be developed as a product for the treatment of prostate cancer patients.

With the support of internationally recognized microbiologists and experts in drug screenings, we have designed an innovative platform that can facilitate the discovery of therapeutic leads from commensal bacteria. This platform, named MICTHERA, combines state-of-the-art high-throughput dispensing techniques, metagenomics sequencing technologies with advanced bioinformatics, machine learning algorithms and in-vitro assays to analyze, isolate and identify novel bacterial species. High-throughput and precision techniques will enable access to novel microbial therapeutic leads and rapid progression from the gut microbiota to isolated strain(s) and therapeutic leads.

MICTHERA has the potential to revolutionize the discovery of new therapeutic bacterial leads by enabling the identification of novel microbial species and their products in a rapid and efficient manner. We envision that the applications of this platform may go far behind the identification of compounds for PCa therapy, embracing indications for the therapies of patients affected by different life-threatening disorders. MICTHERA will be the prerequisite to create an innovative startup in Ticino that will develop novel chemical or biological drug to treat primarily prostate cancer and secondary other diseases.

Additional information

Start date
End date
36 Months
Funding sources
Other Swiss Programmes / BRIDGE / Discovery