AM-Pharma: Developing innovative alternatives to antibiotics




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Video title: AM-Pharma: Developing innovative alternatives to antibiotics
Released on: June 16, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this interview, Fintan Walton speaks with Bart Wuurman, CEO of AM-Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company, based in the Netherlands, that is focused on the development and commercialisation of innovative therapeutics that treat inflammatory diseases and infectious diseases. The company is conducting Phase II clinical trials for two products; Alkaline Phosphatase for acute renal failure and ulcerative colitis; and Selective Immune Response Amplifying peptide hLF1-11 for the treatment of drug resistant hospital acquired infections. With AM-Pharma having completed Series B funding and about to begin Series C, Dr. Wuurman is investigating a range of funding possibilities including partnerships with top-tier development companies, licensing deals, and even a potential IPO offering.
Origins of AM-Pharma and types of products.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures Business Review here live in Madrid. On this show I have Bart Wuurman, who is the CEO of AM-Pharma based in Utrecht in the Netherlands, welcome to the show.
Bart Wuurman:
Thank you very much Fintan for the invite.
Fintan Walton:
AM-Pharma is a product of two companies, own products have been brought together into AM-Pharma you are a very focused company on replacement therapy effectively, could you tell us a little bit about both the origins of AM-Pharma and the types of products it's pursuing?
Bart Wuurman:
Yeah, well we have two products one product comes from the University of Groningen originally and the other one from the University of Leiden and they're brought together because they have one unique feature that is they have in common is that they are both indigenous molecules that are slightly modified and they both use physiological processes to fight disease and which gives an interesting concept because their novel motive actions but because it uses physiological processes and then indigenous molecules and therefore safe, we medicate quite a lot of the risks that are associated with this novel concept.
Alkaline Phosphatase and its specific use in therapy.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Lets just focus on the first product which is an Alkaline-Phosphatase you've got two versions of that both of bovine version which is in Phase II clinical trials and you've got a recombinant, human recombinant version of Alkaline-Phosphatase, could you tell us little more about this Alkaline-Phosphatase and it's specific use in therapy?
Bart Wuurman:
Yeah. Well Alkaline-Phosphatase is a very well known molecule that you will have the several forms as Intestinal and placental forms and sort of other forms and they play a role in protecting tissue against inflammation and against tissue damage. And for example in the guts intestinal alkaline phosphatase it protects the gut lining and in case for example Ulcerative Colitis is depleted, so what we do in Ulcerative Colitis is replacement therapy of our form of Alkaline-Phosphatase and you see similar thing happening in the kidney in this acute renal failure you see also strongly depletion of local levels of Alkaline-Phosphatase. And we found that replacing that is actually very active in protecting the kidney and reducing the need for dialysis and reducing Mortality.
Recombinant version of Alkaline phosphatase.
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now the recombinant version obviously is coming in little bit later it's an, you've just more or less completed the manufacturing scale up to do clinical trials you about to do that, could you tell us a little bit about the recombinant version?
Bart Wuurman:
Yeah, well it's for biotech company clearly it's an expensive business to create a recombinant molecule, they probably use quite a lot money however for us it's worth doing because we know that the concept works by our Phase II results in Ulcerative Colitis and acute renal failure is the bovine material, so it's now worth making the switch and investing the money and the time for our proprietary recombinant molecule, we have a collaboration with Rentschler at the moment to develop the cell lines and then we move into process development in GMP manufacturing which we then will use to go back into the clinic list indications where we've seen you know our affect.
Fintan Walton:
And there are obvious reasons to use the human recombinant version obviously for immunogenicity reasons, but also for scale ups so you have enough for therapeutic use?
Bart Wuurman:
Yeah, I mean it's a commercial decision to make that choice.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Bart Wuurman:
Because the recombinant material is much more suitable for the large indication that we'll be targeting.
Fintan Walton:
And do you need to any specific form of formulation for Alkaline-Phosphatase?
Bart Wuurman:
Yes for the Alkaline for the Ulcerative Colitis indication we are using an oral form because we want to replace Alkaline-Phosphatase locally in the gut, for acute renal failure we are looking at interveinal formulation.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So formulation is an important part of the preparation for the clinical trials absolutely?
Bart Wuurman:
Yes. But we don't see that as a potential problem because there's now lot of science there.
hLF-11 molecule.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. The second molecule is hLF1-11 could you tell us about that, because that's also an endogenous protein?
Bart Wuurman:
Yes, well it's actually the it's a novel concept it's actually the first selective immune response amplifier. And what it does its supports the immune system rather to give response to infection, so it amplifies that effect, but only if there is an infection present.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Bart Wuurman:
If there is no infection nothing happens and that's clearly very important for to be appropriate as a drug. And it's the first 11 amino acids of the human lactoferrin so again it's an endogenous molecule. And we've shown in animal models that it's very effective against both the fungal anti-bacterial infections and that includes the resistance Gram Positive and Gram Negative strains so that causing increase in problems in hospitals. And clearly the interesting thing about this concept is that unlike antibiotics it doesn't create resistance because it doesn't have the direct effect on the microbes.
Major investors and moving into series C.
Fintan Walton:
Right, right. Going back to AM-Pharma itself you have got up to a Series B, you've completed Series B and so obviously now you are moving into Series C?
Bart Wuurman:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
So who are your funders, who you getting the backing for at the moment?
Bart Wuurman:
As of now we have two major investors there Forbion the old ABN AMRO group and Inventages who are investing the swiss group who are investing under Nestle investing money and they've been very supportive over the company. Forbion has been in it for a long time and Inventages joined in 2005.
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Bart Wuurman:
And we now moving into C round, we've been working on that and well we'll be closing, doing the first close of our C round very soon. And then we'll leave that C round open for new investors to come in which makes my life easier because I will have plenty amount of money that's you know allows the company a significant time, allows me to do a number of trials that what we are planning to do. But it also allows me then to bring in the right investors into the company to complete the C round.
Plans for partnering of products.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. The other important thing of course is finding ultimately suitable partners for your products as they develop through the clinic, what are your plans there are you looking to be a co-developer of some of these compounds may be retain rights for Europe may be what are your plans for partnering with products?
Bart Wuurman:
Well our aim is certainly eventually to partner our products, the strategy is to develop at the end of phase II and then find talk to the marketing partners and development partners for them. Now it's time for us to start making these contacts that's finding out by talking to pharma companies directly about our programs so that once we have the Phase II results that's - they now what's coming and we can close deals quickly. In the mean time for example the Ulcerative Colitis program it is nicely ring fenced for example the acute renal failure program is our Alkaline-Phosphatase product, we might want to partner early in co-development deal to get in early revenues and to do co-development also to help develop the recombinant form of the product.
IPO of AM-Pharma.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Now there is different climates in different parts of Europe for doing IPO's and not, is it too early to start talking about IPO's for AM-Pharma?
Bart Wuurman:
No it's actually not because we have had active discussion with number of banks about this and they think we will be very IPO able would the climate allow that.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah.
Bart Wuurman:
Now personally I don't have a strategic plan to do an IPO although the company is preparing for an IPO and we might do one if that opportunity presents itself its not necessarily the end goal Its means to an end. And what I am really preparing the company for is to do licensing deals. And that is a significant way to bring in money and who knows may be in the future would trade so.
Fintan Walton:
Bart Wuurman, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show and telling us all about AM-Pharma. Thank you very much indeed.
Bart Wuurman:
Thanks Fintan.
Bart Wuurman
Chief Executive Officer
Dr Bart Wuurman is Chief Executive Office of AM-Pharma and has 18 years of International Pharma and Biotechnology Industry experience. After graduating in Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Netherlands in 1987, he has worked in marketing and business development positions for Organon, Medeva and Antisoma. He has been instrumental to a number of strategically important licensing deals, the last of which was the AntisomaRoche Oncology Alliance, worth $500 million, signed in November 2002. In 2003 Bart became CEO of De Novo Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, UK, where he was responsible for the successful restructuring and refinancing of the company.
AM-Pharma
AM-Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company, based in Bunnik, The Netherlands. The company is focused on the pre-clinical and clinical development of novel therapeutics to treat inflammatory diseases and infectious diseases. Their products are based on endogenous proteins and (protein derived) peptides, optimized to fight inflammatory diseases and infections. AM-Pharma has intellectual property around two scientific platforms: Enhancing Toll-Like-Receptor mediated activation of innate immune cells Dephosphorylation of extracellular substrates to influence disease processes So far, AM-Pharma has developed two products originating from its intellectual property franchise, Alkaline-Phosphatase and hLF1-11, up to the point of initial proof of clinical efficacy and safety.