Cell-free regenerative medicine is a hot topic among investors and medical professionals right now.
During a week in Toronto amongst the leading researchers at the yearly International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) conference (May 2017), Dr Ian Dixon experienced first-hand the further maturation of cell-free regenerative medicine science and commercialization.
“The scientists at ISEV are now being joined by expert medical practitioners who understand the importance and relevance of extracellular vesicles in human diseases – including cancer, cardiac disease and neurodegeneration” said Dr Dixon, Founder and CEO of biotech Exopharm.
“Another group of attendees becoming more noticeable since last year are Investors, people who see that exosomes/extracellular vesicles are the next-big-thing to invest in” said Dr Dixon.
Over the past few years it has become clear that using cells themselves to treat some regenerative medicine conditions has problems, whereas the use of exosomes/extracellular vesicles has many advantages and no obvious disadvantages.
Indeed, a 2016 study (Nassar et al) showed that exosomes from adult stem cells as a cell-free medicine treated 20 patients with no significant safety problems and promising 12-month benefits to patients with kidney disease.
“Commercial interest in the field of exosomes to treat patients as a cell-free medicine is accelerating, and investors are jumping into the field before they miss out.” said Dr Dixon. “Many investors have been disappointed with cell therapy companies, and are looking at this as the next-generation opportunity in the huge regenerative medicine field”.
Exopharm has been building a portfolio of technologies and partnerships over past 3 years and is formalizing relationships in China, USA and Australia, ahead of its plans to be a public company in CY 2017.
“In 2018 we will run a small-scale clinical trial in Australia, ahead of larger clinical trials where we will compare treatment with adult stem cells with treatment using our cell-free exomeres – in what are likely to be the first head-to-head comparisons run as proper trials with pharma-grade product” said Dr Dixon.
“Transforming into a public company is the way that Australian biotechnology companies generally access the funding required to invest in these expensive programs. Our long-term aim is to partner with a Pharmaceutical company within 5 years, but we will bring our program into Phase II trials in 2020/2021 before that is likely to happen.” said Dr Dixon.
Dr Dixon, also non-executive director of listed Noxopharm Ltd and a founder of an Australian stem cell company now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, said “we expect Exopharm to build a high profile with the investment community based on the combination of our technologies, our international partnerships and the prospects of Pharma-company interest.”