Exopharm will conduct a research collaboration with Japan’s Showa Denko Materials as its LEAP technology shows promise at reducing a major obstacle in advancement of exosomes as a new form of regenerative medicine for diseases such as cancer.

Melbourne Biotech company Exopharm (ASX:EX1) has announced it will undertake a research collaboration with Japan’s Showa Denko Materials Co (SDMC), a world leading international chemicals manufacturing group.

Under the feasibility study agreement SDMC will evaluate Exopharm’s LEAP – Ligand-based Exosome Affinity Purification – technology platform within its Yokohama regenerative medicine business unit.

“Showa Denko is an established international supplier of drug and other chemical substances and if the feasibility study is successful, exosomes purified using LEAP could be yet another valuable product in their portfolio,” Exopharm chief commercial officer Dr Chris Baldwin said.


LEAP provides much-needed high-purity exosomes

Patent-protected LEAP can provide access to large quantities of high-purity exosomes for research and clinical uses and has the potential to significantly advance developments in the field.

Exopharm head of downstream processing Dr Owen Tatford told Stockhead the inability to easily purify a large scale of exosomes from source material, which can include blood, urine or cell media grown in a laboratory, had been holding back the sector.

LEAP uses a chromatography-based purification process to reduce the bottleneck and provide access to large quantities of high-purity exosomes.

LEAP is the only technology offering low-cost, high scalability for exosome medicine purification.  Exopharm is looking to license the patented technology to a variety of companies interested in exosome medicines.

“There’s so much promise with exosomes but to fulfil that you need the ability to have them at a large scale. The problem is standard methods are very fiddly and require a lot of hands-on time and effort to purify exosomes,” he said.

“We have developed an overall process with LEAP to efficiently purify the exosomes from whatever biological source is required.

“LEAP can make a massive difference to a company that wants to take an idea and turn it into a product that can be used as a therapy, so it is a real game-changer because up until now it was not a viable option.”


Exosomes hold promise as future medical treatment

Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released from stem cells which enhance cell-to-cell communication, essential for overall cell health and the stimulation of healing.

Exosomes are showing promise in providing both diagnostic and therapeutic benefits for a range of diseases from cancers, viruses, neurological diseases, and other rare conditions.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies needing to purify large volumes of exosomes have shown significant interest in LEAP to advance their research.

Exopharm has also signed a non-binding heads of agreement with the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service to work together and develop a plan for the FRCBS to license Exopharm’s LEAP technology on commercial terms.

The FRCBS holds a leadership position in developing exosome-based medicine and is interested in using Exopharm’s technology to produce and sell exosomes isolated from blood components.


LEAP’s ability to integrate with other technology an advantage

Dr Tatford said LEAP was developed to integrate with various technology and equipment in laboratories to reduce deployment costs.

“LEAP is ready to go and it is low-cost and adaptable to equipment in the biotechnology sphere, so it slots in very neatly with what a company may already have in place,” he said.

“Companies would not have to invest in a whole new suite of technology as LEAP would integrate easily into their existing processes.”

Dr Tatford said while it may still be some years before exosomes are used in therapeutic treatment, LEAP is assisting to narrow the timeframe.

“It can take years to make a product even after clinical trial, but we can certainly shorten the gap to get to clinical trial by offering the technology and speeding up the process from what it has been in the past.”


Year of growing momentum for Exopharm

Exopharm has had a solid year of growth and development in 2021. The company raised $12 million from a share placement to accelerate its activities and support future potential partnerships and licences. 

Exopharm is building multiple revenue streams and in April released positive data confirming the safety of its off-the-shelf exosome product, Plexaris.

At the time of writing the share price in Exopharm was 52 cents.

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.