Novel microbial species that promote fetal tolerogenic immunity

Tech ID: 31722 / UC Case 2018-198-0

Invention Novelty

New therapies to prevent the development of asthma and other chronic inflammatory diseases in infants using natural bacterial modulators of fetal immune development.

Value Proposition

The risk for infants of developing asthma and other chronic diseases linked to inflammation is unaddressed by existing therapies. Additionally, fetal inflammation is linked to pre-term birth, imposing negative consequences on both birth-parent and child. 

By studying the earliest stages of fetal immune development, UCSF researchers have identified two unique microbial species that naturally interact with intestinal immune cells to promote immune tolerance of the immune system. These species have the capacity to promote tolerogenic immunity even when applied ex vivo, providing a potential therapeutic for speeding up the natural progression of immune tolerance and maturation in high-risk birth scenarios. 

This novel invention provides the following advantages:

  • Preventative approach to asthma and chronic inflammatory disease by addressing early deficiencies in immune system development.
  • Early intervention in pregnancies with a high risk of pre-term labor may prevent co-morbidities for which there are no existing treatments. Suppression of fetal inflammation using these species may lead to therapies to delay labor.
  • These unique species are sparsely found in the healthy fetal intestine but are distinct from previously reported species in their functionality, genomic content, and their effects on immune development.


Technology Description

Maturation of the fetal immune system begins in the developing gut, and UCSF researchers have now shown that the earliest microbial species that colonize the fetal gut have a large impact on the function of immune cells residing there. Specifically, at earlier stages of fetal development than previously appreciated, key members of two microbial genera are sparsely present, yet their abundance is strongly correlated with markers of immune cell function and the induction of immune tolerance (i.e. suppression of inflammation). By isolating these microbial species and treating human cells with them ex vivo, UCSF researchers found that each species exert a tolerogenic effect on immunity via distinct, strain-specific mechanisms.

Stage of Development


Data Availability


Patent Status

Patent Pending


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Other Information


Asthma, Chronic inflammation, Infants, Microbial species, Tolerogenic immunity, Pregnancies, Intestine, Developing gut

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