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A Pill Filled with Bacteria Instead of Drugs

Delivering healthy bacteria in a pill could help patients harboring out-of-balance microbial communities. Yogurt eaters already know that not all bacteria are bad for you. They may not realize that some bacteria are so important that one day people may fight off disease with pills filled with bacteria instead of drugs.

Seres Health hopes to develop the first regulated, clinically approved bacteria-filled pill to treat diseases associated with disruptions to the microbes inside the human body. The company launched last month with $10.5 million in investments; its founders have been working on the bacteria pill for two years and say they’re already testing one candidate treatment in patients.

A new understanding of the microbiome—the collection of microbes inhabiting a body—has led a wave of companies, from startups to large pharmaceutical companies, to look at bacteria as a new area of focus. While some companies plan to develop drugs to “reset” the microbiomes of sick people, Seres is one of a few planning to use live bacteria to do the same job.

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