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AstraZeneca, Seres to research microbiome's role in cancer immunotherapy

AstraZeneca PLC has formed a research partnership with Seres Therapeutics Inc. to study the microbiome's possible role in improving the efficacy of certain cancer treatments such as those developed by the U.K. pharmaceutical giant.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Seres will receive $20 million over two years and financial support for research activities in the collaboration, according to a March 11 press release.

The research will explore microbiome-based approaches to predict which patients will respond best to certain cancer immunotherapies. Seres said the research may also include the company's investigational microbiome therapy SER-401 in combination with some of AstraZeneca's cancer medicines.

Early pre-clinical research suggests that the gastrointestinal microbiome may have an impact on a patient's clinical response to certain cancer therapies known as checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies. Seres said this research suggests that modifying the microbiome could improve cancer therapy outcomes.

Seres will continue to hold the rights to its microbiome therapeutic candidates, and AstraZeneca will have the option to negotiate for rights to the programs and other inventions that may result from the collaboration.