Lookin at UK Small-cap booming biotech groups, The Finacial Times examines the three most promising.
In these years some groups of biotechs are teaming up with big pharmaceuticals companies with the possible advantage of both. On one side the big pharma hope to get a slice of the profits without spending cash on acquiring them, on the other side biotechs can take advantage of the infrastructure and reach that they do not possess, but necessary if they will commercialise their discoveries.
Oxford BioMedica, formed out of Oxford University, is now a leading company in gene and cell therapy with 20 years of expertise. It has grown rapidly in recent years, investing £26m in the past two years in manufacturing facilities and laboratories.
Its most important resource is the LentiVector platform, valuable tool for gene therapy and gene knockdown using RNA interference. The platform can be used in many therapeutic areas, but it has specific advantages in neurological and ocular disorders.
One of the possible use of this platform is a treatment known as CAR-T one of the most promising new approaches to tackling cancer. LentiVector platform is what Big Pharma will need as they develop their own CAR-T products.
So far, the LentiVector has spawned a tie-up with Novartis which has helped to increase the company’s revenues by 64 per cent in a year, from £18.8m in 2015 to £30.8m in 2016.
This year is expected to be approved and launched the first CAR-T therapy for the treatment of leukaemia.
Furthermore Novartis had, for the first time, included Oxford BioMedica’s CTL019 on its pipeline of possible blockbusters.
The biotech’s share price has risen more than 30 per cent since the start of the year, at 5.37p.
Horizon Discovery, a Cambridge-based, has become a world leader in the application of gene editing using techniques such as Crispr. The company has seen a rapid growth in revenues.
Mr Disley the chief executive, says the company can help address “the biggest problem with modern healthcare”: an ageing population, suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which have a genetic basis. “We need to solve those problems if the healthcare model is going to be viable moving forward,” he adds.
Horizon discovery has announced is working with three unnamed clients on pre-clinical development of a variety of gene and cell therapy treatments in areas of high unmet medical need. The work is expected to contribute more than $2m in revenue in 2017.
The company is also working on cell therapy projects in areas such as immuno-oncology, autoimmune diseases, rare genetic conditions, metabolic, neurological and blood disorders.
The third and last company that Finacial Times analysis is Allergy Therapeutics, which specialises in short-course injectable immunotherapies, consisting of between four and six injections, a noticeable advantage compared to those products that can demand more than 50 injections to be effective.
The company has already approved pollen vaccines in Europe with revenues at £50m in 2016.
It has also further products in the pipeline for grasses, trees and ragweed and a house dust mite vaccines in early clinical development.
However the most eye-catching new injectable vaccine immunotherapy it has under development is a treatment for peanut allergy, for which there is currently no established or safe treatment and in US causes deaths of between 200 and 300 children each year.
Numis Securities recently rated the company a “buy”. Its share price has risen more than 19 per cent since the start of the year.