Engineering the Microbiome to Treat Skin Diseases

Travis Whitfill

Cofounder and Executive Director of Advanced Technology


The skin microbiome plays a fundamental role in human health, protecting against pathogens and antigens, while bolstering cutaneous immunity. Imbalances in the skin microbiome (i.e. “dysbiosis”) are highly associated with severity of skin disease, and research shows that improving the skin microbiome may be a promising approach to treating disease.

Novel strategies have emerged to harness the skin microbiome to treat a plethora of diseases.

Azitra is developing a platform to treat skin diseases by engineering the human skin microbiome. The team has engineered various strains of a safe human commensal, S. epidermidis, including ATR-04 (non-protein-secreting strain) for cancer therapy-associated rash and ATR-12 (LEKTI-secreting strain) for Netherton syndrome, a rare skin disease. Azitra is entering into Phase 1b/2a clinical trials for both ATR-04 and ATR-12 in 2021.

This presentation was part of the Biotech Showcase at the Pharmabiotic Research Institute’s Annual Event, Pharmabiotics Conference & Partnering. The PRI is Europe’s leading microbiome regulatory science expertise center and was founded in 2010 to support the development of microbiome-based medicines for the EU market, for the benefit of patients. It applies a unique ‘Share & Learn’ approach to overcome the complex and various regulatory challenges faced by the relevant stakeholders. Its overall mission is to facilitate the conversation between European regulators and Microbiome medicinal product developers and their partners, and to become the key network of stakeholders driving the new therapeutic and diagnostic innovation in the field of microbiome science.