Start-Up Previews (05/2008)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "A Brighter Outlook for Cystic Fibrosis Drugs," features profiles of APT Pharmaceuticals, Aridis, and BioMarck Pharmaceuticals. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Cannasat, Nanobiotix, Reveal Sciences, and Vertebration.
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People who suffer from lower back pain and opt for spinal surgery may soon have another minimally invasive option for filling the space left following the removal of the damaged or diseased disc. By inserting through a much smaller incision than current devices, the expandable XYcor spinal implant from Vertebration has the potential to spare significant trauma to the soft tissue and bone while it provides mechanical support during the fusion process between the vertebra of the spine.
Aridis Pharmaceuticals stabilizes proteins and other complex biological products, which typically must be refrigerated by encasing them in glassy matrices composed of sugar molecules that shield them from environmental stress. Recent studies reveal that high-frequency molecular vibrations that occur in the matrix can be transmitted to these packaged proteins, leading to changes in protein structure and loss of activity or, in the case of a vaccine, making them invisible to the immune system. To counter this, Aridis uses plasticizers to improve the formulations of existing drugs and vaccines.
When Novartis made clear its intention to acquire Chiron in 2005, a potentially important therapy for lung transplant patients was squeezed out by a numbers game. The drug candidate was an inhaled version of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine, and in a trial it had dramatically improved survival in lung transplant patients. Now, APT Pharmaceuticals takes over where Novartis left off, and it's preparing for a Phase III trial of the lung transplant drug.