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 Andrew Carroll of Google AI

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 believe that applying AI technologies in healthcare will make physicians more valuable, and will make their careers more enjoyable and sustainable.

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Interview with L. Staton Noel III of Panaceutics

Q: What need is Panaceutics addressing?

A: One of the key barriers to making precision/personalized wellness and healthcare products is the contradictory goal of manufacturing individualized products on a large scale. Meeting demand for personalized products can be expensive and logistically challenging.

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Interview with Joe Zhang of Burning Rock Dx

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: The milestones in my mind include the first FDA clearance of Next Gen Sequencing instrument, MiSeqDx in 2013, this opened a new door for clinical utilization of parallel gene alteration detection in clinical setting.

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Why are Scientists So Upset About The First CRISPR Babies?

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

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Interview with Kara Davis of Stanford

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.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: These immune checkpoint inhibitors have been an incredible demonstration of the ability of the immune system to control and in some cases.

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Interview with Shannon J. McCall of Duke University

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: After several years of the promise of precision medicine and abundant clinical trial work, the recent FDA approval of solid-tumor-agnostic therapies dependent on molecular biomarkers has catapulted genomic/precision medicine into the standard-of-care for late stage cancer.

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Interview with Tao Chen of Paragon Genomics, Inc.

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: For whole genome sequencing to be a reliable clinical tool, it will largely depend on the cost of sequencing the genome and our ability to interpret the data.

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Call for Action: The Time is Now for Patient Data Interoperability

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

Read More

Interview with Andrew Magis of Arivale

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. How soon, do you think, will we see what kind of accelerated growth?

A: I think the acceleration has already begun. Large sequencing projects such as NHLBI Trans-omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) and NIH All of Us are sequencing 150,000 and 1 million individuals, respectively.

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Interview with Emily Leproust of Twist Bioscience

Q: NGS is enhancing patient care through improved diagnostic sensitivity and more precise therapeutic targeting. Prominent examples include cystic fibrosis and cancer. What other clinical areas NGS will most likely to change the standard-of-care in the near future?

A: Preventative medicine – using genetic data to identify traits that have the potential to cause harm in the future.

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Interview with Michael Phelps of UCLA

Q: You invented the PET scanner that changed the lives of millions of patients with cancer, brain and heart diseases. What are the potential benefits to patients of combining PET with radio-ablation technologies?

A: PET provides imaging assays of the biology of disease in many diseases today.

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Interview with Daniela Ushizima of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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 really hope that human physicians will not be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future.

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Interview with Amy Compton-Phillips of Providence St. Joseph Health

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? What technological advancements are driving this change?

A: Genomic medicine is poised to move quickly from the research realm into integration with healthcare delivery, but there is always a time lapse between technology advances and what we do with those advances.

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Interview with James Taylor of Precision NanoSystems

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: Patients are already receiving treatment using novel gene and cell therapies.

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Interview with Julie Eggington of Center for Genomic Interpretation

Q: Together with Robert Burton you founded the Center for Genomic Interpretation (CGI), a non-profit organization. Can you tell us more about CGI and the mission behind it?

A: CGI’s mission is to drive quality in clinical genetics and genomics. CGI works primarily with laboratories, health insurance payers, clinicians, and patients/consumers.

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Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 16th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 20-23, 2019. 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.

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

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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