Interface Bio emerges with $3m to harness the microbiome against inflammation

AI-powered platform identifies bacterial natural products with the potential to modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Biotech startup Interface Biosciences has secured $3 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round to advance its AI drug discovery platform for inflammatory disease. Specializing in the pharmaceutical development of “bacterial natural products,” the Palo Alto-based company has developed a metabolomics-based discovery platform as it targets inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Interface was founded by Stanford PhDs Hannah C Wastyk and Will Van Treuren, whose shared vision is to leverage the microbiome in treatment of inflammatory disease. The company’s AI platform aims to unlock the therapeutic potential of existing safe and well-tolerated molecules, identifying natural product drug scaffolds that modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.

“Commensal microbes have co-evolved with humans for millions of years,” said Van Treuren. “The molecules they produce have gone through in vivo optimisation for both anti-inflammatory efficacy and high tolerability, making them a uniquely valuable source of drug scaffolds.”

Interface’s lead therapeutic program is a 44-amino peptide derived from Ruminoocccus gnavus, which the company claims exhibits multifunctional properties including wound healing, inflammation reduction, and antibiotic activity against pathogens like Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus. The company says initial data shows that its lead compound has demonstrated stability and a non-toxic nature, with in vivo studies slated to commence in January 2024.

“Our primary goal is to bridge advanced research with practical applications,” said Wastyk. “These therapeutic programmes are a testament to that vision.”

The seed round was led by new investors LongeVC, SeedFolio and Gaingels, alongside existing investors Pacific 8 Ventures, Pear VC, Boom Capital, and Ulu Ventures.

“We’ve backed Interface Biosciences due to their pioneering and innovative use of machine learning techniques to unearth new medications and therapies,” said Sergey Jakimov, managing partner of LongeVC.

“By building a unique end-to-end drug discovery platform geared towards identifying immunomodulatory and longevity-promoting commensal natural products, Interface Bio unlocks a suite of potentially promising new treatments that can be developed as traditional pharmaceuticals. These are not limited to wound healing and dermatitis but also have the potential to impact a broader spectrum of inflammatory diseases with intricate pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.”