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Getting rid of chemotherapy
If you know anyone who has gone through chemotherapy you probably know it means an endless stream of nasty side effects: hair loss, kidney trouble, constant nausea, memory loss… A pretty terrible experience.
Strangely, chemotherapy actually means taking drugs designed to kill your own cells. Naturally, they are designed to kill fast-growing, abnormal cells more than healthy cells, but essentially when you’re in chemo you are receiving controlled doses of deadly poisons.
Since getting the dose right is the key to chemotherapy, a major problem with it has always been the delivery method. Chemo drugs are meant to kill just a few select cells located in a very small part of your body (a tumor is typically the size of a wart, and is pretty well hidden – for example, somewhere in your uterus); but to get the drugs to where they’re supposed to act, they are released in your bloodstream, meaning they actually end up pretty much all around your body.
” A bit like using precision sniping instead of carpet-bombing. “
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But there’s a major complication: these cell-killing drugs are typically not very soluble, which makes them hard to move around the body. Take a substance very soluble in water, such as sugar: mix it in your blood and it will get pretty much anywhere. But imagine a substance that is more like tar… you would need to inject huge doses so that at least a bit of that insoluble, sticky stuff ends up actually getting through to the tumour.
That’s why chemo makes you lose your hair, or causes long-term damage to your heart: these powerful, poisonous drugs that are meant to destroy your tumor actually end up stuck to your hair follicles, heart cells or neurons, and kill them.
So… how do we improve chemotherapy?
An obvious idea would be hiding these dangerous drugs inside a vehicle that is smart enough to deliver them exclusively to cancerous cells, instead of releasing huge amounts of poisonous drugs into your bloodstream – a bit like using precision sniping instead of carpet-bombing.
Sounds interesting? Then meet Immuno Oncology, a whole new industry with a market forecast of $34bn by 2024 (size comparison: Google +Facebook’s combined US advertising revenue in 2016 was $38bn).
Immuno Oncology is based on the use of antibodies: these wonderful proteins created by the immune system, with the mission of attaching themselves to something very specific and making the body kill it.
Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADC’s) are simply an antibody with a potent cell-killer as a payload. The antibody gets stuck to the cancer cell, the drug kills it, and no healthy cell is harmed in the process.
ADC’s have been a huge breakthrough in cancer therapy, but now Imperial College spin-out Antikor is aiming to improve the model with the development of Fragment Drug Conjugates (FDC’s). FDC’s retain the ADC’s specificity and killing capability, but since they are much smaller (ADC’s are rather bulky!) Antikor claim they will penetrate faster and further inside the tumours and kill them more effectively.
This improvement on an already impressive technology is being developed into a treatment for Gastric Cancer, a market expected to reach $4.4bn by 2025.
What differentiates the company
What our experts say
“Easy characterization, higher Drug Antibody Ratio and cell penetration and lower conjugate administration doses, make the FDC a good choice as a chemotherapeutic targeted agent.”
“I believe their therapeutic candidates have a real potential to become a oncology therapy. In general, FDCs look like a promising type of targeted therapy, and Antikor team seems to have a high knowledge and understanding of the field.”
“Precision medicine is definitely the future, so I believe this initiative will be very successful. All team members have doctorates that demonstrate they are highly skilled on the subject.”
“Antibody targeted delivery of a toxic payload is a promising idea”
The final ratings
Who we are
Till was formerly Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy at AstraZeneca Plc and prior to that had a long and distinguished career with Zeneca Plc and ICI Pharmaceuticals, directing business and marketing operations internationally and overseeing the launch of several global blockbuster products.
20 years of academic experience in Antibody technology at Imperial College. Significant industrial leadership experience including devising technical strategy and delivering commercial priorities. Experienced project leader-managing multiple, parallel oncology projects in a matrix environment, developing strategies for progressing an oncology pipeline.
Director of Chemistry and Founder/Director. Synthetic chemistry expert
Business Development Director. Director at Clubb Capital Ltd
Purpose of the project
FROM PROBLEM TO SOLUTION
One of the most active areas of cancer therapy R&D is the development of antibody drug conjugates (ADCs). Powerful toxin payloads are attached to whole monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) precisely targeted to the tumour. ADC drugs have failed to live up to their promise due to 3 intrinsic & critical limitations:
Antikor’s technology solves all these problems through a proprietary technology named OptiLink TM Fragment Drug Conjugates (FDCs).