Start-Up Previews (11/2008)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "In Immunotherapy, Finally Time for T Cells?," features profiles of Adaptimmune, Altor BioScience, and Cell Medica. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Adnavance Technologies, Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, IlluminOss Medical, and KM Medical.
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Cell Medica is pursuing what could be considered a relatively low-tech, low-risk approach to T-cell immunotherapy. The two-year-old spin-out of Imperial Innovations Group will treat immunosuppressed bone marrow donation recipients with T cells isolated from their bone marrow donors. The company's first project is in isolating cytomegalovirus-specific T cells from donors for infusion into patients who are at particular risk of CMV infection following bone marrow transplant.
Other companies' disappointments could turn out to be blessings for Amplyx Pharmaceuticals. The start-up thinks it has a solution for ADME problems that derail candidates in clinical trials or that lead to side effects and reduced efficacy in marketed drugs. Amplyx believes it can improve problematic small-molecule drugs by extending their half-life without making the compounds too big to be delivered orally.
Altor BioSciences aims to exploit the intrinsic selectivity of T-cell receptors (TCRs) by pairing soluble receptors with therapeutic payloads. These TCR/drug combos are smaller than antibodies and could theoretically bind to targets within cells, not just on the cell surface, a main selling point of the firm's so-called STAR technology. At first Altor plans to enhance the safety and efficacy of existing marketed drugs by pairing them with monoclonal antibody-like TCRs for improved targeting.