Exopharm: Extending Health Span
As its primary focus, Exopharm’s mission is to be a leader in the field of clinical human therapeutics using exosomes (extracellular vesicles (EVs)) as medicines.
Exopharm is an Australian biopharmaceutical company that is seeking to develop and then commercialise EVs as therapeutic agents – initially natural EVs products (Plexaris™ and Cevaris™), then engineered EV products (EEVs) – both classes of EVs are purified using the LEAP Technology™ owned by Exopharm.
Headquartered in Melbourne, Exopharm Ltd listed on the ASX (EX1).
Exopharm was founded in 2013 by Dr Ian Dixon to potentially increase health span by using EVs.
With experience in the stem cell and cell therapy fields, Dr Dixon was aware of the growing body of research around the potential use of EVs as a new way of treating patients.
The research was indicating that if EVs could be isolated from the secretions of stem cells, then there could be a more direct and standardised product to harness the regeneration benefits of stem cells without the numerous challenges of cell therapy.
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.
Dr Dixon implemented a research and development project to solve that problem.
This project was developed and funded by Altnia Operations, a private research company that is associated with Dr Dixon.
Years of research by Dr Dixon and his team led to the discovery of a way to isolate EVs using affinity chromatography – called LEAP Technology.
Affinity chromatography is a well-known scientific method for separating one type of molecule from another. Affinity chromatography makes use of specific binding interactions between molecules so that when a complex mixture is passed over a column, the target molecules are specifically and reversibly bound by a complementary binding substance (ligand).
Unbound material is then washed out of the column and the bound molecule is isolated and recovered.
The invention by Dr Dixon and his team was a family of synthetic affinity ligands that could be used in affinity chromatography to purify EVs. This process is called Ligand-based Exosome Affinity Purification (or LEAP) technology.
LEAP ligands are able to selectively bind to EVs and enable the extraction and isolation of vesicle products. Exopharm’s proprietary purification process for EVs remains unique, with no apparent comparable technology for delivering clinical-grade EVs economically at scale.