Exopharm: Delivering Transformative Medicines
Exopharm (ASX:EX1) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company using exosomes (extracellular vesicles (EVs)) from cells to generate a new class of transformative medicines.
Various Exopharm EV products harness the powerful natural ability of EVs to efficiently target cells and transfer selected materials into cells and across barriers.
Exopharm has two exclusive proprietary technologies that extend the utility of EVs into engineered EV medicines (EEVs): the LOAD technology improves loading of nucleic medicines into EVs, and the EVPS technology allows EVs to be directed towards selected cell types. Exopharm uses combinations of LOAD and EVPS to develop a pipeline of EEV products aimed at treating a wide scope of medical problems including neurological diseases, infectious diseases, cancer, and fibrosis.
Exopharm’s LEAP technology solves the challenge of purifying EVs at large scale. With LEAP, Exopharm is also developing naïve (or natural) EVs (NEVs) from adult stem cells and platelets as therapeutics. NEVs have the potential to deliver the regenerative benefits of cells without the challenges of administering cells to patients. NEV products target a broad range of medical problems including osteoarthritis, autoimmune conditions, acute injury and chronic injury.
Exopharm was founded in 2013 by Dr Ian Dixon to bring EVs forward as a new form of medicine to treat medical problems people still face.
With experience in the stem cell and cell therapy fields, Dr Dixon was seeing the emerging research around EVs and the potential to use EVs from stem cells as an alternative to cellular therapies. While stem cells cultured in a bioreactor produce large numbers of EVs, the EV purification techniques being used at the time were accepted as being unsuited to the manufacture of a proprietary pharmaceutical-grade biologic product. Dr Dixon realised that the invention of a proprietary technology that could properly and efficiently purify EVs from the other substances in the secretions of the cells would provide a significant commercial opportunity – despite the obvious challenges.
3 years of research by Dr Dixon and his team led to the discovery of a way to isolate EVs using ligand-based affinity chromatography – he called it the LEAP Technology. A PCT Application for the LEAP Technology was lodged in December 2016 and further patent applications have since been lodged. The main patent is now at National Phase in 13 countries including the USA.
In 2018 Exopharm became a listed company of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). In 2019 Exopharm ran its first clinical trial and its second clinical trial is due to report in early CY 2021.
Since its formation, Exopharm has grown to be a 41-person team based at the Baker Institute in Melbourne as a commercial tenant. Ian remains the Chief Executive Officer of Exopharm and a substantial shareholder.