Link to interview
Sarah: You're listening to a Total Market Solutions podcast. Hemogenyx Pharmaceuticals has told investors that it has achieved proof of concept for its chimeric bait receptor platform technology. To find out what that means for the company, I'm joined by co founder and chief executive Dr. Vladislav Sandler. Thank you very much indeed for joining me. Vlad, so this development, is it fair to call it a virus killer technology at its most basic level?
Vlad: Hi, Sarah. Thank you for inviting me again. In some sense, yes. So I would like to give you some historic background. Sometime in the mid 2019, we came with the idea of creating a platform, creating the method of fighting emerging viruses. And at that time, the idea was basically to figure out what we would do if a new virus emerges. We obviously did not know about it at that time. We concentrated on measles virus and measles, despite the fact that the vaccine exists since I think 1963 still kills about 100,000 people every year. So we went and we had this idea of instead of targeting the virus, rather to use the propensity of the virus to latch on a specific type of cell or a specific part of the cell and use that part of the cell as a bait. So instead of trying to kill the virus, we wanted to attract the virus to basically trap. And when the virus gets into that trap, we would kill it or do something about it. So that was the original idea and we concentrated on measles. However, about a year later, we discovered that we are in the midst of a pandemic, of COVID 19 pandemic, and we switched to the virus that causes COVID 19, which is SARS-CoV-2. And we try to design, try to develop this trap for COVID 19 because in virus. So in some sense you are right. So we created a platform that can be used to make different traps for different types of types of viruses. And you can call it virus killer. Yes.
Sarah: So it's taken, what, from conception to proof of concept, it's taken about three years. So I'm just wondering what next for the CBA platform technology and what partnerships you'll need to integrate to take it to the next step.
Vlad: Yeah, you're absolutely right. It took about three years, a little bit less than three years to actually go from a pure idea of creating a trap for a virus to something that actually works. So we we had to overcome enormous amount of difficulties because one thing is to claim something as an idea. And the other one the other thing is to reduce this claim, to reduce this idea, to practice. That's the foundation. That's the essence of something that is patentable. So we not only have to show how it works, but we show the idea. But we'll also have to demonstrate that this idea is practical so that it works. So it took almost three years. We demonstrated this in vitro for SARS-CoV-2, and we demonstrated that the approach is not sensitive to mutations, and it works for all variants of COVID 19 that we tried. And there is no theoretical reason why it wouldn't work for five or ten or 50 other variants of the same virus, simply because we design the trap as if it's a door through which the virus comes and goes inside the cell. And as long as the door remains the same, it doesn't matter if the virus is spread thin or short. Right? It's the same door through which the virus goes in, gets trapped and killed.
Vlad: So in a sense, it's a universal approach that can be used not only for COVID 19, but also for all kinds of different viruses, I'm afraid to say, for all viruses, because we don't know what's coming and what exists actually out there. But based on what we see, I would be able to say for most viruses, for most known viruses. So the next step, obviously, to show that what we created works in vivo and it means that we would have to demonstrate that, for example, with COVID 19 virus, that our approach works with the real infectious replicating virus that can potentially infect people and even kill people. Demonstrate that this approach works in vivo, and then we will probably try to partner with other companies or governments to push this into clinical trials for certain populations of patients. In parallel with that, in this way, developing, we are expanding this platform, trying to see if this platform can generate treatments for other types of viruses. And as we discovered recently, it can be adapted for attracting and trapping malignant cells or cancer cells. And that opens a totally new area of application of severe.
Sarah: Did you say governments then, Vlad? The development partner could include governments. That's the highest level of administration in the land. Is that what you said?
Vlad: Yes, we are trying to. Talk to. You can call them governments. Yes, because it's absolutely clear now that emergent viral infections are as probably as dangerous as I'm afraid to say it's nuclear weapons, because it's absolutely clear that a developed country can be brought to its knees by bug that kills .01 percent of the population. It basically stops economy, disrupts everything. You don't even need to kill 1% of people. It's enough to kill 0.1% of people. And it creates enormous fear and people stop functioning. And so that's why governments and very large institutions that are designed and created to take care of stability in a country must be interested in something that can prevent such a horrible event.
Sarah: Yeah, I totally agree. Well, hopefully those conversations are already underway now. You mentioned patents a couple of minutes ago. Is this chimeric bait receptor? Is it well protected? Is it well patented so that no one else can create something similar and overtake you?
Vlad: Well, right. So we filed the provisional patent application, a very large we call it like a seminal patent application that protects different basically protects CBR as a platform and different types of applications of this platform for both viral infections and cancer. So it's a very large patent application. I'm not going to tell you how many claims and what are these claims, because it's going to be published probably in about one and a half years when we go through the initial 12 months of provisional patent application period, and then we will switch it into international application. And only after that in about 18 months since the original application is going to get published and then the whole world will see what it is all about. So by that time, we hope to move forward and basically aggressively and add a lot of data and a lot of new ideas and hopefully come closer to proof of concept in people, mainly come closer to clinical trials or even be in clinical trials and definitely have some, some products.
Sarah: You've been very, very clear in previous interviews that you like to keep things and you like to take a product, a treatment, an idea from conception to hopefully commercialization. Are you going to be as possessive with the CVR platform technology as well, or would you be prepared to sell it to Big Pharma if the right price was offered?
Vlad: We're not thinking about selling it because there are different applications of this platform. And when you say that I was possessive. So you have to keep in mind that we have two major product candidates. One is key, and the other one is a bispecific antibody. Both are for three for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and condition in bone marrow transplants. So these two product candidates are exceptionally good. I'm not afraid to say this because the more we work, the more we move forward, the more I'm convinced that they are really, really good product candidates. But they are not platform. They are single product candidates. So you cannot derive a lot from them. You can maybe expand the use of the CAR-T or BISPECIFIC antibody for maybe additional indications, but these are not platform technologies. They cannot serve as a point from where you can go into different directions basically and derive for the product candidates. So in the case of these product candidates, yes, I was possessive because the real value. Can be extracted only when both of these product candidates are in clinical trials and there is a clinical data that proves that they are really work and really save someone, someone's life to sell it before that. It doesn't it doesn't give the company or its investors the real return on investment.
Vlad: So in the case in the case of CPR, we have a platform that can be used to generate multiple product candidates. And obviously we cannot handle ourselves. All aspects of this technology. So most likely we will try and most likely we will find people or institutions or governments that will be interested to take over, to partner with and take away a part of that platform for a specific indication or a specific direction.
Sarah: Understood I wasn't being rude when I was saying possessive. It's wholly understandable. So in terms of the other homogeneous initiatives, how are they progressing and and do you have the funds to continue to progress them?
Vlad: Right. So our frontrunner is khaki for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and conditioning of bone marrow transplants. So we are basically in the middle of manufacturing of necessary components for CAR-T. And we announced sometime ago that we partnered with Gucci Advanced Cell Technology. That's a Chinese company that already manufactured plasmids or DNA to make the virus. They're in the middle of manufacturing the virus. And the final step, manufacturing of car key. Actual car key is going to be done by human genetics pharmaceuticals in its new facility that is being finished. And I don't want to say when we're going to move there, but it's a matter of the completion of this facility is a matter of days or weeks, basically.
Sarah: So in terms of this facility, though, Vlad, how is it going to benefit you?
Vlad: So by building this facility and acquiring expertise and manufacturing of actual car t cells for clinical trials, first of all, we save a lot of money. Let's start there. We save probably at least two and a half million just by doing this. And that is after the expense of building the facility and purchasing of all necessary equipment, hiring people and so on and so on. So after all of this, we will probably save about two and a half million. In addition to that, we will have experiences of manufacturing cell therapies and looking at CPR. And CPR is, at least partially is a cell therapy platform. We will have an opportunity to go and push it forward much, much faster, because we will have all infrastructure in place and we will have knowledge and ability to manufacture cells. For human use. So it gives us it basically expands the experience and ability of our company to move forward faster and more aggressive.
Sarah: And it seems as though 2022 is going to be a year without distraction. There were lots of distractions to the core business last year. So 2022, how confident are you that it will be the company making year that you were hoping last year would be?
Vlad: Um. Well, last year was a company making year too, because we advanced once tremendously. It's it's a process. It's not like we decided to do something today, and in a couple of weeks, voila, we are there. No, it's a constant. It's a it's a tedious process. We go step by step, overcoming different obstacles, learning new skills. And ultimately we will go into clinical trials with our source product, candidate CAR-T, and then hopefully with others. So I think I think we are on the right track and we will get to where we are going. And I firmly believe that the share price and this is very sensitive for many people who invested in our company will follow our scientific and engineering and manufacturing progress.
Sarah: Well, if today is anything to go by, Vlad, today is Monday, the start of the week, and the share price is up 21%. So that's not a bad start to the week at all. And with that, we shall conclude our catch up with gratitude and thanks. Thank you so much. Vladislav Sandler, Co-Founder and chief executive. Thank you very much indeed.
Vlad: Thank you.