At BioInnovation Institute, we support early-stage life science start-ups that contribute to improving human health for the benefit of people and society. But what are some of the most exciting BII portfolio companies in the biotech space right now? We asked our Portfolio Manager, Giles Dudley, and Business Developer, Matthias Wulf. They highlighted six companies: Notify Therapeutics, Pephexia Therapeutics, BOOST Pharma, Embark Biotech, Ciana Therapeutics and Commit Biologics.
How can Notify Therapeutics make a true difference for women who do not benefit from standard hormone therapy?
Infertility has been proven to have a significant impact on both patients and their families. Around 30% of infertile women have a reduced egg reserve. These patients are poorly served by standard hormone treatment, and many will never be able to give birth to a child. Notify Therapeutics is developing a novel non-hormonal treatment specifically suitable for these patients, which will have a significant positive impact on these individuals’ quality of life.
What can Pephexia Therapeutics’ novel peptide-based pharmacotherapies do to help treat cachexia? Do the therapies have the potential to treat related diseases as well?
Pephexia’s dual-acting orexigenic peptide is designed to improve treatment outcomes through a novel MoA and by stimulating two distinct pathways simultaneously. By doing so, the treatment will not only increase appetite and stimulate weight gain, but also improve functionality and Quality of Life. Combined this provides the potential to also improve patient survival. Initially, Pephexia is focused on cancer cachexia but believe our approach also will be relevant in cachexia caused by other diseases, like COPD, in addition to primary sarcopenia experienced by a large proportion of the increasing aging population.
Why is BOOST Pharma’s technology to treat Brittle Bone Disease truly unique?
BOOST Pharma is developing the only therapy in the Brittle Bone pipeline that treats the underlying disease of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, without interfering with patients’ endocrinologic processes.
How does Embark Biotech’s pharmacotherapies address clinical unmet needs within the metabolic diseases sphere?
The current metabolic disease space is dominated by therapies that reduce food intake. However, individuals living with metabolic perturbations often experience decreased calorie-burning in addition to increased food consumption.
Embark Biotech’s novel, first-in-class pharmacotherapy safely and powerfully activates the adipose-gut-brain axis to both boosts energy expenditure and suppress appetite. The long-acting nature of Embark’s lead molecule provides sustained reductions in body weight, blood glucose, and lipids, leading to substantial improvements in insulin sensitivity in both obese mice and nonhuman primates. Moreover, the efficacy of Embark’s proprietary agonists on appetite suppression is amplified in genetic and behavioral overeating models, suggesting that this novel MoA could provide a unique, substantial benefit to individuals living with rare hyperphagic diseases or binge-eating disorders.
What can Ciana Therapeutics’ therapies do to combat Diabetic Retinopathy? What is the need for treatment methods against diabetic retinopathy?
Ciana Therapeutics is developing a clinical asset to treat diabetic retinopathy that can be given as an oral therapy instead of being injected directly into the eye. As an oral therapy, it has the potential to protect the eyesight of millions of patients. Today’s leading therapies are based repeatedly on needle injections in the eye that can target important growth factors to reduce vascular leakage (VEGF) and neovascularization.
These therapies are used in late-stage disease to reduce macular edema and improve vision but are burdensome for patients and often show sub-optimal responses. Retinal specialists and ophthalmologists are requesting more effective and less burdensome therapies to halt and reverse the disease at an earlier stage.
Ciana’s lead and orally administered therapy uniquely targets the core of diabetic retinopathy and has been shown to treat clinically validated pathologies of capillary breakdown and vascular leakage. By halting and reversing the disease, upstream of where the current anti-VEGF, injection-based therapies are used, this novel oral therapy provides a more effective and less burdensome therapy to address the largest unmedical need in diabetic retinopathy.
Why do you believe Commit Biologics’ immunotherapies hold great potential in an already crowded oncology space?
The complement system represents an efficient immune mechanism for clearing tumor cells modulating the tumor-micro-environment, and for stimulating an adaptive immune response. Activating the complement system has been a big obstacle in cancer therapy and consequently has not been utilized despite its great potential. Commit Biologics has developed a novel platform technology to potently activate the complement system on a target of choice. With a unique mechanism of action, this technology has the potential to create a new type of immunotherapy for a wide variety of cancers.