Exopharm preps for great LEAP forward as world catches onto exosome promise
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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Special Report: Exopharm (ASX:EX1) is picking up steam as the scientific community wakes up to the huge therapeutic potential of the nanoscopic “extracellular vesicles” the Melbourne biotech specialises in.
Earlier this month the Melbourne company was hit by an ASX price query after its shares jumped 30 per cent in a day, a price spike Exopharm attributed to media reports about how an Israeli company has used exosomes to cure 29 of 30 patients with moderate or serious COVID-19.
And in late January, University of Michigan researchers published a proof-of-concept study about how exosomes could effectively be harnessed to kill circulating cancer cells.
While Exopharm wasn’t involved in either study, the company is one of just three pure-play exosome companies around the world – and one of just two that individuals can invest in.
The third, Oxford, England-based Evox Therapeutics, announced last week that it had raised £69.2 million ($124.4 million) in a Series C financing round – about the total market capitalisation of Exopharm.
There’s a lot of excitement in the field of regenerative medicine about exosomes, nano-vesicles secreted by cells for intercellular signaling that have been found to stimulate tissue regeneration. The technology could have promise for everything from delivering targeted medicine to fighting age-related diseases.
But purifying exosomes so they can be introduced into the human body has always been an issue – one that Exopharm appears to have solved with its LEAP (Ligand-based Exosome Affinity Purification) process.
Exopharm chief commercial officer Chris Baldwin credits that platform – and the recent scientific advances around exosomes – for the company’s recent sharemarket success.
“People have begun to understand that our destiny is not only in our hands, it is in the hands of the entire exosome research community, and everybody who is trying to develop exosome medicines, because there’s no technology that has been demonstrated that can produce thousands, much less tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of doses of exosomes, with the exception of what we have.
“So it’s a really exciting time for us because every time either a researcher or another exosome company demonstrates the potential for exosomes, it affects us in both ways.
“It demonstrates that what we’re working on ourselves is likely to have potential and success, but it also gives us the higher confidence that the technology we have for purification systems is going to become very, very important in that process.”
Exopharm has a number of other potential catalysts in the works, including partnerships with outside companies and organisations.
“We have so many different types of partnerships in mind,” Baldwin says.
Those include partnering with the non-profits around the world that collect blood, to explore making more treatments available from the platelets they collect from donors, and with companies with a drug that doesn’t work because it can’t reach the cells where it is needed. Exopharm’s exosomes could be used as a drug delivery mechanism.
“And the one that’s probably very unique to us, because of LEAP, is to work with all the bio-processing companies in the world, to take a lot of the technologies they already have for other bio-processing and bring that to the growing field of exosome medicine. “
To assist with these partnership opportunities, Exopharm recently set up a Swiss office in the bio-hub of Basel, Switzerland, where the company will be transferring two of its staff within weeks.
“A lot of potential partners and collaborators are either located there (in Basel) or have major R&D functions there, it’s a fantastic pool of bio-resources,” Baldwin says.
“So we’re not just going to be transferring things by email, we’re going to be able to have on-the-ground resources that can support the advancement of LEAP technology in other people’s hands.”
As someone who comes from a medical device background, Baldwin says no matter how simple you make something, “it’s always better to have someone there to really push it forward”.
“So we’re really excited about that. … I think we’ll be able to do partnership deals that will help imbue confidence that what we have here is not only unique, but is going to be stable in the hands of major partners around the world.”
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.