Exopharm will move to another important stage in a collaboration agreement with a major global pharmaceutical player, in the process reinforcing its position as a leader in exosome medicine delivery.

Australian biopharma Exopharm (ASX:EX1) has announced it will start technology transfer of its proprietary and patented Ligand-based Exosome Affinity Purification (LEAP) to Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AIRM) under an ongoing joint master collaborative services agreement (MSA).

This development will see Exopharm progress to Phase 2 of its collaboration services agreement with AIRM, a subsidiary of top 20 global pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc.

The latter company invests heavily in R&D to support development of new treatments to address major unmet medical needs.

This second phase of work will enable AIRM to further evaluate Exopharm’s LEAP technology for the isolation of exosomes.

Exosomes are nano-sized particles produced by cells to exchange materials and genetic instructions and coordinate cellular activities in our bodies.

For some medicines, exosomes are an alternative and superior means for delivery inside the body.

Astellas to use two other Exopharm technologies

Astellas Pharma has the rights to use three Exopharm-created proprietary technologies:

  • LEAP  – an exosome purification and biomanufacturing process providing a highly scalable purification capability for exosome product manufacture.
  • Extracellular Vesicle Positioning System (EVPS) technology enables the addition of engineered tissue-tropic moieties to exosomes. EVPS enables surface engineering of exosomes for targeting exosomes to specific tissues and cells.
  • LOAD is used to encapsulate a broad array of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for immune-silent The platform opens up the use of exosomes as a drug-delivery chassis to deliver a broad array of APIs, such as RNA, DNA, AAV, and CRISPR innovations.

EVPS technology from Exopharm could enable AIRM to develop and evaluate surface-engineered exosomes.

Exopharm’s LOAD technology could enable AIRM to load functional RNA into exosomes derived from AIRM cells.

Exopharm chief technology officer Dr Mike West said “Astellas and Exopharm have been completing important initial laboratory work together”.

“The collaboration with Astellas colleagues has demonstrated our technologies,” he said.

Exopharm is a clear leader in exosome manufacture and analytics

As part of the multi-stage research collaboration, Exopharm conducted the initial stage at the company’s research facilities in Melbourne using its LEAP technology to purify exosomes derived from two proprietary AIRM cell lines.

Dr West added “The adoption of exosomes as a large-scale non-viral drug-delivery chassis for genetic medicines relies upon practical solutions to the various manufacturing challenges. Our work provides very encouraging insights and fuels the promise of exosome-encapsulated therapeutic genetic medicine development.

“Our other recent data supports the use of exosomes as a drug-delivery technology, with very positive results from in vivo testing of toxicity and immunogenicity – results showing that our manufacturing process makes exosomes that are non-toxic and ‘immune-silent’ despite multiple-dosing of exosomes.”

Solving problems of exosome medicines

As the only listed exosome company on the ASX, and one of a small number of exosome companies listed globally, Exopharm is focused on accelerating its lead in the burgeoning field of exosome-supported modern medicines.

Exopharm founder and managing director Ian Dixon said since founding Exopharm in 2013, the company has focused on solving the practical problems holding back the promise of exosome medicines.

“Here in 2022, we have a complete suite of key proprietary technology platforms that enable exosome medicine development and commercialisation,” Dixon said.

Dr Dixon further said “Our strategy is to accelerate the development of our lead programs in cystic fibrosis and elastin deficiency while making our platform technologies available under license to leading pharmaceutical companies, such as Astellas.”

He said, “the combined strategy has potential to generate non-dilutive revenue from such agreements while advancing value of products it owns.”

“Exopharm continues commercial discussions with other leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies interested in using exosomes for their own genetic medicines.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Exopharm, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.