Søren Kjærulff

Søren Kjærulff, CEO, LactoBio

1. The problem your company solves in the specific domain and what triggered that.

Humans have spent the last 80 years trying to clean “germs” from our homes and bodies. The use of antibiotics to fight infections have saved countless numbers of lives, but with unintended consequences to our microbiomes that we are only beginning to understand.

Antibiotic resistant infections create a new challenge for public health, and there is no simple solution. Alternative approaches, like probiotics, is needed to treat resistant infections and prevent resistance from spreading.

In Lactobio we focus on the creation of new probiotic and microbial solutions to target and fight the problem of increasing infections caused by microorganisms being resistant to antibiotics. Projects are spanning most bacterial pathogens and are based on a proprietary discovery and screening platform. We work with the gut, oral, vaginal and skin microbiotato fight bacterial infections incl. multi-resistant bacteria.

Lactobio have obtained very promising results, with the newly isolated lactic acid bacteria having a significant antibacterial activity against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).The lactic acid bacteria also prevent MRSA from being transferred between two subjects by physical contact and decrease colonization of individuals.

Colonization with S. aureus is, in most cases, non-symptomatic, but the pathogen can cause infections when the skin’s protective barrier function is breached. Staphylococcus infections are thus often associated with skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, carbuncle, cellulitis, rosacea, psoriasis, diaper rash, impetigo and wounds. Human Staphylococcus skin infections are especially problematic in relation to atopic dermatitis, and therefore atopic dermatitis is a key focus in Lactobio.

2. The journey of your company with the management and interesting incidents along the way.

Traditional probiotics are typically not selected for a targeted function and the commercial strains available are older isolates. In 2017, the Lactobio founders SørenKjærulff and Charlotte Vedel recognized the need for new probiotic strains selected for their specific activity and functionalities. During the last two years, we have identified thousands of strains by fermenting all kinds of vegetables and plants while also compiling isolates from healthy donors and thereby initiating the collection of new wildtype strains.

Lactobio is a privately held company and thus not a spin-out from well-established labs or University settings. Therefore, a large part of the initial journey was to establish and equip a functioning BSL2 laboratory to take over the home kitchen fermentations and proceed into screening for functionalities and activity against pathogenic microorganisms including antibiotic resistant bacteria. Lactobio is now established with own lab facilities in Copenhagen Bioscience park with plans to expand further in 2020.

The first Lactobio products, called Bak Probiotic Skincare, is a cosmeceutical product line based on the patented Lactobacillus strain LB244R.Bak Probiotic Skincare reduce problems of dry skin and effectively soothe and normalize the skin by countering Staphylococcus aureus and by restoring the natural, bacterial balance of the skin microbiome, which also means that the immune system becomes well-functioning again.

Development of live biotherapeutic products is a new area with an unclear path to regulatory approval. Lactobio has managed to get 3 new products certified under EU regulation all within 2 years of founding the company. Later this year we will be launching two new skincare products to treat eczema and acne.

3. Advice to budding entrepreneurs (based on your experience).

Starting a biotech company is fun but also very hard work. Being adynamic and agile business has given us a clear competitive advantage over larger and more rigid competitors. The advice from Lactobio is to stay lean for as long as possible, seek soft funding and professional collaborations to generate value in the company.

In Lactobio we have kept costs down to a minimum avoiding use of expensive consultants. This has been possible since the founding team covered a broad range of both commercial experience and specialist knowledge within the field. Both founders also have well established international networks of professionals, which has helped Lactobio become an established company in just 2 years.

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