Altermune Technologies says it will win back "much needed" resistant pathogens investors

By Natalie Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Immune system, Polymerase chain reaction

Big pharma companies looking to invest in 'superbug' R&D could soon see a better return through Altermune Technologies' new platform.

The company - a newly formed joint venture between Loxbridge and the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Kary Mullis - will focus on developing novel therapeutics for resistant pathogens such as MRSA and Clostridum difficile​.

And though the California-based firm admits that emphasis on research and development (R&D) in anti-pathogen treatments has taken a dive in recent years, it claims the unique nature and flexibility of its new method will guarantee a bigger pay off for those investing.

Using researchers from universities all over the world, the project will pioneer the use of "programmable immunity", which re-tasks inactive antibodies found in all humans.

The method utilises linker molecules which attach themselves to the antibodies using aptamers (single stranded oligonucleotide), each geared towards its specific target cell, depending on the therapy.

The linkers then redirect the antibodies to the selected pathogens. Altermune says it is the unique Trojan horse-like use of the bodies' own antibodies which triggers a higher immune response because they are produced in vivo​, as apposed to synthetic administered ones.

A spokesperson for the company said: "Notably, the Altermune approach brings new hope in the fight against multi-drug resistant pathogens - because the mechanism of action is entirely novel, and the targets can be selected in a highly programmable manner from those known to be essential to the pathogen and difficult to mutate​.

"As such, the method has the potential to deliver a much-needed, truly disruptive, adaptive therapeutic platform to deliver antibacterial and antiviral drugs over the next decade​."

Investment potential

Altermune Technologies now believes it will provide the "much needed" revolution to kick-start the industry.

Loxbridge CEO, and president of the new venture, Charles Roberts told in-PharmaTechnologist: "The problem is big pharma is being increasingly asked for studies into resistant pathogens by the regulators, but unless it's a very successful commercial entity, many businesses will go for the markets with higher earning potential​.

"And the big brand is oncology. It's still the same cost for the R&D but not the same pay off because many of the trials for resistant pathogens out there lack the differentiation in their results​.

"What makes us special is that Altermune is flexible and is first in class with an entirely new mechanism of action, and we are confident that the efficacy will be significantly better than what is already out there​."

However Roberts said that Loxbridge, which has invested $7m (€5.2n) in the project, is not looking for investors at present.

Yet he said, in due course, the firm will seek investors around certain products, "especially if we spin out certain products into other vehicles​."

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