Polyphor Ltd: Developing Innovative Protein Epitope Mimetic Technology




Episode Loading...




PharmaTelevision requires Javascript enabled and Adobe Flash Player to watch our programmes. If you do not have Flash installed, you can download it for free from the Adobe Flash homepage.

Improve your Internet experience and start watching exciting new video content.

Video title: Polyphor Ltd: Developing Innovative Protein Epitope Mimetic Technology
Released on: September 02, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
Share/save this page:
Email
Bookmark
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Follow us:
RSS
Twitter
  • Summary
  • Transcript
  • Participants
  • Company
In this interview, filmed at BIO in San Diego, Fintan Walton talks to Dr. Jean-Pierre Obrecht CEO, co-founder and Delegate of the Board of Directors of Polyphor Ltd. In July 2008 Polyphor announced the successful completion of its Phase I clinical study on POL6326, a CXCR4 inhibitor, the first trial of its proprietary PEM technology.

Dr. Obrecht describes the evolution of the company and the potential future of the PEM technology following the success of preliminary clinical studies. He tells how Polyphor’s Small Molecule Business Unit supports and helps fund the PEM technology development, which enables Polyphor to not only take POL6326 onto Phase II studies but to begin pre-clinical studies on POL7080, an antibiotic.
The origins and proprietory technologies developed by the company.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures business Review here live in San Diego, California. On this show, I have Jean-Pierre Obrecht, who is CEO of Polyphor, a company which is based near Basel in Switzerland. Welcome to the show.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Thank you very much and thanks for the invitation. It's a great pleasure to be here.
Fintan Walton:
Good.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Especially in a great moment for our company where we had made a big step in validation of our proprietary technology.
Fintan Walton:
Excellent, well before we go into the detail of that, what I would like to do is to ask you the question around the foundation of your company Polyphor and the origins of the company, Could you tell us that?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Sure. Polyphor was founded in 1996 by my brother and myself and when we start we did service business in the Small Molecule Drug Discovery area. We would synthesis general libraries for hit identification and focus libraries for hit-to-lead and lead optimization for the pharmaceutical industry.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. And you've developed that company over the last 12-years now. How has that company changed and particular what technologies have you developed to build your company?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes. 2001 was an important year in the history of Polyphor. In 2001 significant financing round took place in order to finance the development of a technology known as -Protein-Epitope-Mimetics that we have developed together with Professor Robinson at the University of Zurich.
Fintan Walton:
What is the basis of this technology and what does it provide to the pharmaceutical industry?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Protein-Epitope-Mimetics or just PEM provides access to fully synthetic medium-size cyclo-peptide derived molecules that are able to mimic surface patches of proteins, especially those frequently occurring at interfaces of interacting proteins technology. Pharmacophore have this high propensity to interfere with the protein -protein interactions, big class of targets, which is difficult to tackle with the classical Small Molecule Drug Discovery approach.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So this provides a new platform for pharmaceutical companies to identify new products?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Exactly. So we try to exploit PEM technology in two ways. On the one hand we have internal R&D programs.
Fintan Walton:
Sure.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
And on the other hand we are offering access to PEM technology, to pharma companies to work on their proprietary targets.
The hybrid model
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So you've moved from a service based company to the hybrid model of both providing services, continue to provide services to the pharmaceutical industry but also to develop your own products?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Exactly.
Fintan Walton:
So, is that a new challenge for a company like yours?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Certainly this has been a big change from the service business into own drug discovery project, number of newer capabilities had to be build up and we have been able, now in the mean time to build up an attractive portfolio of drug candidates.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So having the service side to the business provides cash into the company.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
And is that cash it is gonna be used to develop the new products?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Exactly.
Fintan Walton:
Or are you gonna look for an additional investment?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Well the Small Molecule business unit has been profitable since 2001 and all the profits have been invested into the development of PEM technology, the products however this was not sufficient and so we have gone to several smaller and larger financing rounds in the past.
Fintan Walton:
Okay and so the company remains a private company, is that correct?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes, yes indeed.
Therapeutic areas focussed on
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So you said you are developing your own proprietary products?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
What specific therapeutic areas are you focused on?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Well, PEM technology is applicable to a wide variety of therapeutic areas and targets. Our most advanced product POL6326 is a CXCR4 inhibitor and has just completed Phase I clinical studies which is a very important step of course for this product which has numerous application in hematology, oncology, inflammation and in tissue repair . But it's of course also a big step in the validation of the whole technology to be able to show that these PEM molecules are safe and efficacious meant.
The opportunity for collaboration.
Fintan Walton:
Sure. Taking the hybrid model, which you have you are developing these products yourself, you have these collaborations through the service model to the pharmaceutical companies themselves, does that provide you with an advantage that a normal – normal biotech company wouldn't have because you now access the scientists and the needs of the pharmaceutical companies who you serve?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Exactly.
Fintan Walton:
Does that provide an opportunity for collaboration?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Additional collaboration?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Exactly, exactly. We have built up a long-term relationships with the number of big pharmaceutical companies and of course this facilitates discussions about PEM Technology.
Fintan Walton:
Sure, yes. And the other thing of course is you mentioned earlier when we started that this has been a very good time for you. Could you describe what that has been or why you are so excited about your company at the moment?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes. As I mentioned, we have just been able to conclude successfully Phase I clinical trial with our most advanced product.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So that, that now means you are gonna move to Phase II on your own or you're going to take that product forward at your own cost?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes. Actually we are planning to finance Phase IIA study later this year. And also some pre-clinical studies for antibiotic which is in earlier stage of development. Of course we are looking for possibilities to partner.
Fintan Walton:
Sure.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
The compound especially in the area of hematology and oncology.
Strong development and the transformation in the biotechnology space in switzerland.
Fintan Walton:
Right. And Switzerland has now developed in recent times quite a strong biotechnology base both by companies spinning out of the large pharma companies but also some of the indigenous companies being formed. In the years that you started, you've started 12-years ago, have you seen that transformation and how do you feel about that transformation?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Well, we have clearly seen this transformation at that time where we founded our company there was virtually no venture capital available.
Fintan Walton:
Yes.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
In the mean time several venture funds have established in Switzerland and have financed a lot of start-up companies.
Fintan Walton:
So the, there is a cluster effect and that helps your company going forward?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Yes certainly. There are many successful biotech companies around Allschwil, where we are located and then the Basel area.
Milestones for the future
Fintan Walton:
Yeah, so Jean-Pierre Obrecht when you look into the future of the next year for your company and the, the developments you've see -- you have reached this important milestone. What are the milestones you hope to see in the next year or two?
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
We like to further develop our product portfolio and establish PEM technology, and PEM molecules as a new class of drugs between small molecules and the biopharmaceutical.
Fintan Walton:
Well, Thanks very much indeed for -- Jean-Pierre Obrecht, for giving us an insite into Polyphor and your recent developments that you have had. We look forward to watching the development of your company over the next few years. Thank you very much indeed.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht:
Thank you.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht
CEO and Delegate of the Board of Directors
Dr. Jean-Pierre Obrecht is the CEO and Delegate of the Board of Directors of Polyphor Ltd, a biotech company he co-founded in 1996. After time in a post-doctoral position at ETH Zurich, Dr Obrecht's experience of the chemical industry began in agrochemical research as head of the production and engineering department of Dr.R.Maag AG. In his last position before founding Polyphor he was responsible for the worldwide logistics of pharma active ingredients at Roche in Basel. Dr. Jean-Pierre Obrecht obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from ETH Zurich under the supervision of Professor D. Arigoni in 1982 and an Executive MBA degree from Hochschule St.Gallen in 1990.
Polyphor
Dr. Jean-Pierre Obrecht and his brother, Dr. Daniel Obrecht, founded Polyphor Ltd, a privately owned biotech company, in 1996. Located in Allschwil, Switzerland, it was initially started to provide the pharmaceutical industry with products and services for small molecule drug discovery. Its Small Molecules Business Unit (SMBU) has compiled libraries of small molecules for general and random screening, which can be used to support pharmaceutical companies to find novel hits on a non-exclusive basis. Hits from these libraries can then be optimized with focused libraries strategically synthesized by Polyphor. In 2001, in collaboration with Prof. J. A. Robinson at the University of Zurich, the Protein-Epitope-Mimetics Business Unit (PEMBU) was set up. Run alongside the SMBU this unit allowed Polyphor to conduct its own drug discovery and clinical development programs based on the proprietary PEM technology. This new and innovative technology provides access to fully synthetic, medium sized cyclo-peptide derived molecules that are able to mimic surface patches on proteins, especially at protein-protein interfaces. Hence these molecules can be regarded as functional minimizations of proteins. Their ability to modulate protein-protein interactions and G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) with large ligand binding domains makes them applicable for discovering and optimizing clinical candidates that interfere with targets especially those that are difficult to modulate with small molecules. Polyphor is developing several PEM molecules, the most advanced of these, POL6326- a CXCR4 inhibitor, has just completed Phase I clinical trials and will be taken onto Phase II later this year. As well as concentrating on PEM development Polyphor offers its technology for collaborations on their customer's targets and is also interested in partnering opportunities with large pharmaceutical companies.