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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 7, 2016/PRNewswire/--Evelo Biosciences and the University of Chicago announced today that they have entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement to develop and commercialize a microbiome-based cancer immunotherapy. The cancer therapy, developed in the laboratories of UChicago researcher Thomas Gajewski, employs select gut microbes to boost the immune system’s attack on cancer cells and improve the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs.

“This is the first license for the University in the area of microbiome immune-oncology, and one of the first of its kind nationwide,” said Alan Thomas, associate vice president and director for UChicagoTech, the University’s Center for Technology Development and Ventures, which negotiated the license. “Immunotherapy is a rapidly growing field with huge potential and the University is at the forefront of oncobiome research.”

The licensed technology adds to biotechnology company Evelo’s research into the power of the microbiome to disrupt and fight cancer.

“This exclusive license, in conjunction with our proprietary platform, solidifies Evelo’s leading position in the development of Oncobiotic™ therapeutics,” said Simba Gill, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Evelo. “We are committed to working closely with the University of Chicago on this technology to rapidly develop novel therapies to help cancer patients worldwide.”

Dr. Gajewski’s team showed that the introduction of a particular strain of bacteria into the digestive tracts of mice with melanoma boosted the ability of the animal’s immune systems to attack tumor cells. When combined with anti-PD-L1, an investigational anti-cancer antibody in the drug class known as checkpoint inhibitors, the therapy nearly eradicated tumors. Gajewski’s research was reported November 5, 2015, in the journal Science.

“This is a super exciting time in the field of cancer immunotherapy,” Gajewski said. “Our recent work revealed a surprisingly potent role for the commensal microbiota in boosting the therapeutic efficacy of checkpoint blockade immunotherapy in mouse models. This relationship with Evelo will rapidly bring microbiota-based immunotherapy forward into clinical testing in cancer patients.”

About Evelo Biosciences

Evelo Biosciences is dedicated to transforming cancer therapy through a deep understanding of the mechanisms and biology of the cancer microbiome. Evelo is developing Oncobiotic™ therapies, derived from its Bacterial Immune Activator (BIA™) and Cancer Associated Bacteria (CAB) proprietary platforms, designed to disrupt the tumor microenvironment, activate the immune system against tumors and interfere with tumor metabolism. Founded by Flagship VentureLabs® in 2015, Evelo is the world’s first microbiome company focused on the treatment of cancer. For more information, please visit

About the University of Chicago

Across numerous departments and disciplines, as well as more than 140 institutes and centers, the UChicago community advances ideas and innovations that enrich human life. The University’s Biological Sciences Division encompasses a wide range of fields, including the basic biological sciences and all clinical disciplines. Research is characterized by a commitment to original inquiry and rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship. The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center is respected worldwide, and is a leading center in cancer care and research, including conducting all phases of cancer clinical trials to develop new therapies. UChicagoTech, the University of Chicago’s Center for Technology Development & Ventures, lead negotiations for this license. UChicagoTech advances innovation-based on invention, creating products, services, and ventures based on cutting-edge research by engaging with partners on campus, in industry, and across the broader innovation community.