OptioBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) is planning to hook-up with Bened Biomedical of Taiwan to explore licensing and sales opportunities over the next 12 months.
The life sciences business focused on tackling obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Bened.
The MoU provides a 12-month period to explore opportunities relating to OptiBiotix's cholesterol and blood pressure reducing LPLDL strain and Bened’s PS128, a psycho-biotic that has shown encouraging results in reducing anxiety and depression in animal studies.
OptioBiotix said the agreement includes: the potential for Bened to commercialise OptiBiotix’s LPLDL strain in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and South East Asia; the potential for OptiBiotix to commercialise Bened’s PS128 strain in Europe and the USA; and the possibility of combining relevant assets to broaden the commercial offering and global reach
The Aim-listed firm said the partnership, should it come to fruition, would widen its probiotic portfolio into the area of psycho-biotics – where bacteria in the gut communicates with the brain (the “gut-brain axis”).
Referring to the “Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis”, OptiBiotix said there is mounting evidence that suggests the microbiome helps shape neural development, brain biochemistry and behaviour.
The partnership would also open up commercial routes for the UK company into Asian markets, including Japan – the world's third largest dietary supplements market - with a total probiotic retail value of US$16.1bn, of which supplements account for US$700mln, according to Euromonitor International.
“We are pleased to announce this strategic partnership with Bened Biomedical and see a strong rationale for both companies to work together based on a complementary understanding of the science in different application areas of the microbiome," said Stephen O'Hara, chief executive officer of OptiBiotix.
“We are excited by recent advances in psycho-biotics which have the potential to address a range of mental and emotional health issues such as anxiety, depression, autism and Parkinson’s. We strongly believe Bened’s scientific and commercial capabilities in psychobiotics creates potential for OptiBiotix to bring new products to new markets and extend both our product offering and global reach in the microbiome field to bring better science and better health to all,” he added.
Frankie Cheng, chief executive of Bened Biomedical, was similarly effusive about the possibilities of the partnership.
"OptiBiotix operates in a very exciting and progressive area that has the potential to bring real health benefits,” he said.
“It has exciting products with strong science and clinical studies which we believe can be commercialised successfully through our distribution capability. We see mutual benefit in OptiBiotix’s commercial advances in Europe and US as a way to bring our PS128 product to a wider audience,” he added.
Summing things up, OptiBiotix's house broker, finnCap, said: “Geographically, OPTI will benefit by potentially going on to commercialise LP-LDL into Taiwan, Japan, Korea and SE Asia, whilst Bened could benefit through OPTI commercialising its PS128 strain in Europe and the US.”
“The widening of OPTI's probiotic portfolio into psychobiotics allows for wider potential markets opportunities going forward and is positive, given that Bened is established in this area as a market leader,” said analysts Alex Pye and Mark Brewer.
Bened Biomedical is a Taiwanese probiotic company whose patented product PS128 already has sales (including online) and is sold internationally in over ten countries, finnCap noted.
Earlier animal studies for PS128 have shown encouraging results in reducing anxiety and depression, it added.
Shares in OptiBiotix rose 0.6% to 69.89p in a falling market on the news.