INFLAMMATION: it can be a real pain in the … !
Inflammation is one of the very basic things our body does to get rid of injured tissue, and when it works properly it’s a great thing. Naturally, there’s a bit of a problem when the inflammatory response goes wild: when you hear “autoimmune inflammatory response”, it essentially means that the body is mistaking its own cells for alien agents and trying to destroy them. Usually it doesn’t just happen as a one off, either, but permanently: your body is under the constant belief that your own nerves, skin cells or hip joints must be destroyed.
This is the cause of many common diseases including Psoriasis or Multiple Sclerosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis; a condition which causes your own immune system to destroy cartilage and bone with crippling effects.
” Like trying to stop a car using paper brakes. “
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It has been long known that a particular protein in the body, CD200, reduces the activity of immune response and could potentially be used to treat autoimmune inflammatory responses.
So could patients simply be treated with natural CD200? In practice, no. This molecule’s natural activity is rather weak, and using it as a medicament would be expensive (synthesising biological molecules isn’t cheap at all). And also… since it is a naturally occurring protein, it cannot be patented. Like it or not, since it can’t be a business no CD200-based treatment has ever been developed.
Ducentis has modified the structure of the wild-type (naturally occurring( molecule, achieving two very important goals: (1) making it over 50 times more powerful than natural CD200, which would be enough to make this an effective treatment, and (2) modifying it enough so that it CAN be patented, making it a potentially very profitable business – anti-inflammatory drugs for rheumatoid arthritis alone are a $40bn market growing at close to double digits.
The modified CD200 will now be tested on animals, as well as on human cells. If tests are positive and the program moves into clinical development, then initial clinical testing (referred to as phase II testing by pharma) could be concluded by 2021. If those are positive, according to their projections, then the Ducentis program could be worth £50 to £100M if sold to pharma buyers.
How the company differentiates themselves
What our experts say
A team that has already proved its ability in developing new and valuable molecules. CD200 is a very attractive molecule acting over a new pharmacological pathway that plays a key role in the immune system function.
SPR results look very promising. I like the idea and the team is very competent.
The final ratings
Company Business Plan
Who we are
Dr. Huxley began his career at Novartis (Basel) where he worked on developing and applying computational approaches to drug design. He is the founder of Ducentis BioTherapeutics, and former Head of Drug Discovery at Avidex – the precursor company to Immunocore – considered one of the world’s top 15 private biotech companies. Dr Huxley led the team that discovered RhuDex, the compound which was pivotal in MediGene’s acquisition of Avidex for $64m.
Rebecca has 18 years’ experience working in biotech and academic groups developing cancer immunotherapies (Avidex and Immunocore) and prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines (the Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and a 2016 startup, Vaccitech). Rebecca’s operational experience encompasses immunology, in vivo models, clinical manufacturing, and clinical trials submission.
Dr Rees is one of the best networked individuals in the industry in the UK, having founded the UK’s trade association for emerging biotechs as well as Europe’s largest life sciences investment conference. Jon will provide targeted investor introductions, investor relations advice and support the Company’s interactions with large pharmaceutical companies and their investment arms.
Purpose of the project
FROM PROBLEM TO SOLUTION
Autoimmune diseases are a major health concern, affecting a significant percentage of the world population and equate to a $50B global market.
Most current biotherapeutic autoimmune therapies indiscriminately block both normal and pathological immune responses. Therefore, more specific solutions are required.
CD200 is an endogenous protein that transmits a de-activating signal to activated immune cells, thus attenuating exaggerated inflammatory responses.
The molecule normally functions to restore a healthy immune system following an inflammatory response. Ducentis believes that administering high affinity CD200 molecules (which are more active than naturally occurring CD200 molecules) will facilitate restoration of a healthy immune system in diseased patients whose exaggerated immune response have overwhelmed the body’s normal restorative processes.