While most people know about the importance of having a healthy gut microbiome, the benefits of reinforcing good bacteria [probiotics] to the skin are yet to be discovered by the wider public.
But it’s a promising path: according to a Fortune Business Insights, the global probiotics market will reach US$74.7bn by the end of 2025 and the skin is going to be at the forefront of this growth.
SkinBioTherapeutics’ proprietary technology SkinBiotix is patented in various countries and based on studies conducted by Catherine O’Neill and Andrew McBain at The University of Manchester.
The AIM-listed company is exploring five avenues of development: medical biotics; pharmabiotics; access biotics; cosmetics; and cleanbiotics.
Medical focuses on wound healing while pharma is analysed for prescribed treatment for skin conditions.
The two have a longer development path due to the regulatory hurdles to be crossed.
Access biotics, though, has recently passed major milestone through a partnership with Dutch firm Winclove Probiotics to develop a food supplement to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis.
The product, called AxisBiotix, may be ready for the shelves within a year.
The pair, which started collaborating in February, have already came up with the first formulation and are ready to enter a study on humans eight months ahead of schedule.
“The whole access biotics project is to look at the pathways, what happens in the gut and how it manifests on the skin, so there are multiple places we could have started from, eczema, acne or psoriasis,” chief executive Stuart Ashman told Proactive.
“We chose psoriasis because it’s a particularly aggressive condition, it affects about 3% of the global population and there is no cure.”
Many sufferers have had to enter complete coronavirus isolation because they take immunosuppressants to control the psoriasis outbreaks.
“During a global pandemic the last thing in the world is suppress your immune system, you actually want that firing on all cylinders, so we firmly believe that it’s very, very important to get this into the community as quickly as possible,” Ashman added.
The initial target was enhancing the barrier effect of the skin to stop infections, but during the human safety studies the researchers came across significant anti-ageing indications, too.
The life sciences firm is providing its technology to the FTSE 100 company’s unit Sederma, while SkinBioTherapeutics gets access to Sederma’s huge base of customers, including prestigious brands such as Chanel, Garnier and L’Oreal.
Sederma has slowly restarted operations following a halt at the beginning of lockdowns, though there has been no material delay on their joint work.
Finally, infection control in both the home and the hospital environment has also taken on a new degree of urgency following the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The skin is a very complicated surface, but it is just a surface, so we are doing the same thing on a non-living surfaces such as an operating table or bedsheets,” explained Ashman.
In this application, the scientists are looking at how they can prevent the latching of bad bacteria onto surfaces.
Looking at the numbers, SkinBioTherapeutics is currently in the research and development phase, so it’s still pre-revenue.
First sales are estimated to come in around two years, which would be November 2021 for the deal with Croda and February 2022 for Winclove, although the timeline for the latter has now compressed significantly.
Cash at the end of June was around £2.1mln.
“At current cash burn we do have a two-year window however, as we commence commercialisation and we start new rapid access trials, we will start burning cash a little faster,” Ashman concluded.
“It’s going to be very busy. Regardless of what Covid-19 throws at us, we are looking to find all routes possible to get this psoriasis product into the hands of those that need it and progress on the other areas.”
At 19.4p, the company is valued at £25mln.