Start-Up Previews (11/2008)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "In Immunotherapy, Finally Time for T Cells?," features profiles of Adaptimmune, Altor BioScience, and Cell Medica. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Adnavance Technologies, Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, IlluminOss Medical, and KM Medical.
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Other companies' disappointments could turn out to be blessings for Amplyx Pharmaceuticals. The start-up thinks it has a solution for ADME problems that derail candidates in clinical trials or that lead to side effects and reduced efficacy in marketed drugs. Amplyx believes it can improve problematic small-molecule drugs by extending their half-life without making the compounds too big to be delivered orally.
Altor BioSciences aims to exploit the intrinsic selectivity of T-cell receptors (TCRs) by pairing soluble receptors with therapeutic payloads. These TCR/drug combos are smaller than antibodies and could theoretically bind to targets within cells, not just on the cell surface, a main selling point of the firm's so-called STAR technology. At first Altor plans to enhance the safety and efficacy of existing marketed drugs by pairing them with monoclonal antibody-like TCRs for improved targeting.
Cell Medica is pursuing what could be considered a relatively low-tech, low-risk approach to T-cell immunotherapy. The two-year-old spin-out of Imperial Innovations Group will treat immunosuppressed bone marrow donation recipients with T cells isolated from their bone marrow donors. The company's first project is in isolating cytomegalovirus-specific T cells from donors for infusion into patients who are at particular risk of CMV infection following bone marrow transplant.