Dr. Nikole Kimes is Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Siolta Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based biotech company developing novel microbiome-focused precision strategies for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases. As the lead executive driving Siolta’s early-stage development, Dr. Kimes heads a talented team of scientists, blending microbiology, immunology, and bioinformatics expertise to leverage microbiome data for the improvement of patient stratification and development of precision microbial therapeutics. Read her full bio.

Interview with Nikole Kimes of Siolta Therapeutics

Q: What need is Siolta Therapeutics addressing?

A: Chronic diseases, including inflammatory diseases such as asthma, now represent the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Asthma alone is a global concern affecting over 300 million people with the greatest prevalence (10-20%) in westernized countries and an increasing rate of 50% with each new decade since the 1980s. These chronic diseases, although known to be affected by environmental factors, have no known cause and thus no cures. The current therapeutic landscape for chronic inflammatory disease involves the treatment of downstream symptoms with medications that have variable efficacy and the potential for serious side effects. As a result, the long-term quality of life is decreasing for more and more people.

Q: What are the products and/or services Siolta Therapeutics offers/develops to address this need?

A: Siolta Therapeutics is a clinical stage biotech company developing FDA-approved live biotherapeutic products (LBPs). This means we use live bacterial cells known to be important in maintaining human health to formulate innovative and safe drugs. In addition, we are developing diagnostics to identify the most appropriate candidates for treatment and for distinguishing those that respond to a given treatment from those that do not.

Q: What makes Siolta Therapeutics unique?

A: Siolta is unique for a number of reasons, including our systems perspective and our focus on prevention in addition to treatment. Siolta embraces the fact that the human ecosystem, like all living systems, requires complex microbial and host cellular interactions to maintain health. We use the developing microbiome of infants to inform our understanding of what health looks like from multiple perspectives, including microbial composition, metabolic function and immune modulation. We have since used this knowledge to develop our lead product, a mix of microbial species known to be important in the development of the infant microbiome over the first years of life and known to be depleted in infants that are at greater risk of developing disease (e.g, asthma) later in life. Because we are targeting the underlying cause of inflammation rather than the downstream inflammatory symptoms, we are also able to explore the idea of asthma prevention in addition to treatment.

Q: What is your role at Siolta Therapeutics and what excites you about your work?

A: As a founder, I have been with Siolta since its inception. This company very much represents my own personal passion for both impactful translational science and the integration of health back into our discussions of healthcare. As the CSO, I am the lead executive driving our early-stage development. I have the honor of heading a talented team of scientists, blending microbiology, immunology, and bioinformatics expertise to leverage microbiome data for the improvement of patient stratification and development of precision microbial therapeutics. Everything about what we are doing excites me! We are tackling difficult and complex biology through the integration of a multi-disciplinary approach and our systems perspective. Thus, we are fundamentally altering the way we approach chronic inflammatory diseases and helping to shape a whole new field of medicine. Not only are we developing natural and innovative treatments for established disease, but we are going after the very cause of disease making prevention our goal as well.

Q: When thinking about Siolta Therapeutics and the domain Siolta Therapeutics is working in, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?

A: The genomic revolution that has occurred over the last three decades is fundamental to our current understanding of complex microbial ecosystems, including the human microbiome. The resulting advancements in our technology have led to increased awareness of the many implications these organisms have on our health. This revolution has also uncovered our unique microbial characteristics, highlighting the importance of more precise and individualized drug development.

Q: What are the short-term challenges that Siolta Therapeutics and its peers are facing?

A: One challenge within the field at the moment is unraveling the promise of the microbiome without succumbing to the hype. Siolta is performing rigorous science and pursuing an FDA-regulated path forward in an effort to provide legitimacy and validation to our work as well as the field more generally. Additional challenges include regulatory hurdles and scaled manufacturing processes. All of these challenges are characteristic of a new field, however, and the rapid advancement that we’ve witnessed over the last two years suggest they will be alleviated relatively quickly as the field itself matures.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience?

A: One of Siolta’s underlying goals is to bring health back to the conversation when crafting our healthcare experiences. We want to raise the bar for drug development to address health through the prevention of disease in addition to treatment, and we aim to do this in a way that is aligned with precision medicine.

Interview with Calum MacRae of Harvard Medical School

Q: What patient data do we need to better understand the underlying cause of disease and how to prevent it?

A: Medicine at present is highly underdetermined and data poor. To be precise, one must be comprehensive, so medicine (with our consent) will use not only what we currently conceive of as biomedical information, but also data from across our lives.

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Headlines from PMWC 2019 Silicon Valley

A big ‘Thank You’ to all of our presenters and attendees for celebrating 10 years of precision medicine progress with us! PMWC 2019 Silicon Valley was attended by 2000 participants from 35 countries, which included over 400 speakers in 5 parallel tracks!

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Interview with Ken Bloom of Ambry Genetics

Q: Tell us more about your organization/company. What patient population are you serving and which services are you specializing in?

A: Ambry Genetics is a recognized leader in high quality complex genetic testing. We seek to find the genomic cause or contributors to rare diseases, abnormal phenotypes and hereditary disorders.

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Interview with Lee Pierce of Sirius Computer Solutions

Q: What is the state of big data and analytics in healthcare, and how to best use the reams of data available?

A: More than ever, Healthcare organizations are achieving measurable value through use of their data and analytics assets. There is more raw material available than ever to create value. This raw material is the data flowing from internal systems and applications and also from devices and systems external to healthcare organizations.

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Interview with Anita Nelsen of PAREXEL

Q: There are various new, emerging technologies that bring us closer towards a cure for life-threatening disorders such as cancer, HIV, or Huntington’s disease. Prominent examples include the popular gene editing tool CRISPR or new and improved cell and gene therapies. By when can we expect these new technologies being part of routine clinical care?

A: Today’s emerging technologies are making the promise of individualized treatment a reality.

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Interview with Ilan Kirsch of Adaptive Biotechnologies

Q: The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: For decades cancer was viewed as solely a cell-autonomous condition.

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BMS buys Celgene | Lilly buys Loxo Oncology – Does this Signal a Return to Strong Deal-Making Activities in 2019?

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster $74B deal to buy Celgene creates an oncology powerhouse amid industrywide excitement about the rapidly evolving science and explosive growth of the sector. The agreement could signal a return to deal-making for the pharmaceutical industry in the $133B global oncology therapeutics market.

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Interview with Gini Deshpande of NuMedii

Q: What need is NuMedii addressing?

A: NuMedii, has been pioneering the use of Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and systems biology since 2010 to accelerate the discovery of precision therapies to address high unmet medical needs. Artificial Intelligence approaches are a natural fit to harness Big Data as they provide a framework to ‘train’ computers to recognize patterns and sift through vast amounts of new and existing genomic

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Interview with Minnie Sarwal of UCSF

Q: Genomic medicine is entering more hospitals and bringing with it non-invasive technology that can be used to better target and treat diseases. What are some key milestones that contributed to this trend?

A: Completion of complete sequence data from the human genome project, and the advances in proteomic, microRNA and epigenetic assays added a layer of pathway biology to the understanding of human diseases.

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Interview with Shidong Jia of Predicine

Q: Once sequencing has been validated as a clinical solution via trusted workflows, and coinciding with the technological developments driving costs lower, we can expect accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx. How soon, do you think, will we see accelerated growth and what can we expect?

A: We will see accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx in 2019 and the coming years as more biomarker-based cancer drugs are gaining approval.

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Interview with Iya Khalil of GNS Healthcare

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have sent vast waves across healthcare, even fueling an active discussion of whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians in the future. Do you believe that human physicians will be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts?

A: I think that there’s a lot of speculation and uncertainty around AI, but I don’t foresee a time when we won’t need physicians.

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Interview with Ilya Michael Rachman of Immix Biopharma Inc.

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” Besides CAR T-cell therapy what do you think next generation immunotherapies will look like to successfully combat cancer?

A: The next generation of immunotherapies will build on the insights discovered by immunologists like James Allison and Tasuku Honjo and extend them to modify the body’s response to tumors.

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Join me to Kick off PMWC Silicon Valley in the Santa Clara Convention Center, Focusing on Every Element of Precision Medicine

My team worked in collaboration with Bill Dalton, Kim Blackwell, Atul Butte / India Hook Barnard, Nancy Davidson and Sharon Terry to create a program that touches every component of precision medicine while bringing together all of its key stakeholders. Leading participating institutions including Stanford Health Care, UCSF, Duke Health, Duke University, John Hopkins University, University of Michigan and more will share their learnings and experiences and their successes and challenges, as they make precision medicine the new standard of care for all.

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Interview with Dominic Eisinger of Myriad RBM

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” Besides CAR T-cell therapy what do you think next generation immunotherapies will look like to successfully combat cancer?

A: Next generation immunotherapies include CAR-Ts, TCRs, cancer vaccines, ADCs, bi-specific antibodies, and checkpoint inhibitors.

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2018 Year in Review Milestones: Stakeholder Partnerships Carving Precision Medicine’s Future

2018 has clearly been a year when significant opportunities intersected with strong partnerships to yield advancements. In particular, the clinical advancements that were realized are a testimony to stakeholders working together to deliver on promises affecting major aspects of precision medicine. 2018 has clearly been a year when significant opportunities intersected with strong partnerships to yield advancements.

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Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 17th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 21-24, 2020. The program will traverse innovative technologies, thriving initiatives, and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advancements in precision medicine and cutting-edge new strategies and solutions that are changing how patients are treated.

See 2019 Agenda highlights:

  • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • AI & Data Science Showcase
    • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
    • Clinical Dx Showcase
    • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
    • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
    • Digital Phenotyping
    • Diversity in Precision Medicine
    • Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Early Days of Life Sequencing
    • Emerging Technologies in PM
    • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
    • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
    • Gene Editing
    • Genomic Profiling Showcase
    • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
    • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
    • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Microbial Profiling Showcase
    • Microbiome
    • Neoantigens
    • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
    • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • Point-of Care Dx Platform
    • Precision Public Health
    • Rare Disease Diagnosis
    • Resilience
    • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
    • Wellness and Aging Showcase

See 2019 Agenda highlights:

    • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • AI & Data Science Showcase
      • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
      • Clinical Dx Showcase
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Emerging Technologies in PM
      • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Gene Editing / CRISPR
      • Genomic Profiling Showcase
      • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Microbial Profiling Showcase
      • Microbiome
      • Neoantigens
      • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • Precision Public Health
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Resilience
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Wellness and Aging Showcase
  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 2000+ multidisciplinary attendees, from across the entire spectrum of healthcare, representing different types of companies, technologies, and medical centers with leadership roles in precision medicine
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